MERS-COV What is the New Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) ? World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the virus belongs to the Corona virus family, which belongs to the virus, SARS. However the new virus characteristics and methods of transmission are unknown yet. The Ministry of Health (MOH), Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in collaboration with the WHO and international experts are working closely to deal with the virus. What are the symptoms of the disease ? From previous asymptomatic cases, individuals tend to clear the virus them selves within 10-14 days. The worst symptoms seem to be in those with low immune system. What are the ways of infection ? Based on the limited information available so far, there is no evidence which determines the mode of transmission of the virus from one person to another, but it is likely similar to other types of corona viruses. The methods include: The Ministry of Health and Health Authorities in collaboration with Government agencies and international organizations including the WHO are working closely to learn more about the modes of transmission of the disease, including the transmission by animals. How can I protect myself ? MOH,HAAD and DHA advise to follow the below tips to help prevent respiratory illnesses: Is there a vaccine or treatment for MERS-CoV ? No vaccine is currently available. Treatment is largely supportive and should be based on the patient’s clinical condition. From previous asymptomatic cases, individuals tend to clear the virus themselves within 10-14 days, but are kept in isolation in hospital during this time. What do I need to do if I have similar symptoms to MERS-CoV ? It is recommended to drink lots of fluids and take rest. Individuals suffering from chronic diseases or immune deficiencies are advised to visit a doctor immediately if symptoms progress. Individuals in close contact with a laboratory diagnosed MERS-CoV are advised to see a doctor immediately. What are the measures taken by MOH, HAAD and DHA to control the spread of the virus ? The WHO announced the first confirmed MERS COV case back in 2012, ever since the infectious diseases notification system has been activated and all healthcare professionals were asked to report cases with similar symptoms. Healthcare professionals were provided with documents and international standards on infectious disease control as per the international guidelines. MOH, HAAD and DHA are working closely with Government agencies and international organizations including the WHO to learn more about the virus. Are there any restrictions or bans on Hajj and Umrah ? Elderly (above 65 years of age), those with chronic diseases and immune deficiencies, pregnant women and children below 12 are advised to postpone the Hajj and Umrah this year. It is also advised that all pilgrims to wash hands with soap and water, use disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose it in the waste basket. Visit a doctor in case of any respiratory related illness. Should any respiratory disease symptoms appear within 10 days after returning from Hajj or Umrah, seeking medical care is highly advisable. What is the incubation period for the MERS-CoV ? Based on current available information, the incubation period of the MERS-CoV is unknown; however it may range from 2 – 14 days. What is the relationship between camels and the Coronavirus. And can the virus be Transmitted from camels to humans ? Recent studies have found signs that the Coronavirus strains in some of the camel samples genetically match the strain that causes the disease in humans. However, until now, there’s no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from camels to humans. More research is required to identify how humans are infected and sources of infection. What preventive measures are recommended for camel breeders and those who come in contact with camels ? The preventive measures recommended for people in contact with camels are the same measures that should be taken when dealing with different productive animals to avoid contracting common diseases in general. These recommendations are: Buying animals from reliable sources and avoid adding sick or suspected animals to the herd. Isolating animals that appear to be sick from the healthy ones and call the vet immediately to take the necessary measures. Washing hands thoroughly after touching animals. Wearing protective clothing and gloves when dealing with sick or suspected animals. Slaughtering animals at the abattoir under veterinary supervision. Avoiding drinking unpasteurized or unboiled milk Eating well cooked meats Are there additional preventive measure recommended when dealing with camels ? Until the way humans contract the virus is known, the following measures are recommended: People with weak immune systems and those who suffer chronic diseases should avoid contact with camels. Avoid the habit of kissing camels, especially camels that are less than one year old. Wear protective clothes, gloves and masks when directly contacting camels that show respiratory signs or nasal discharges. Is it safe to consume camel milk and meat ? Animal products that are well prepared through cooking or pasteurization are safe to consume. In the past few days, lots of message has been circulating on social media platforms telling people to avoid hospitals and to cancel their medical appointments. How true is this ? MOH,HAAD and DHA reassures citizens and residents on the MERS-CoV illness status and asks the public to practice their daily life activities normally, to avoid rumors and refer to official reliable sources for information on the illness.