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Jordan's health ministry Tuesday announced a new death from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ( MERS) coronavirus infection, the media reported. The 56-year-old victim, who suffered from lung diseases and high blood pressure, was proved by lab tests to have been infected by MERS virus, and died at the University of Jordan Hospital, Xinhua quoted the state-run Petra news agency as saying.
The death raised the number of infection to eight, including four deaths, since the disease appeared in Jordan in 2012. MERS outbreak has caused panic throughout the region, prompting many governments to launch awareness campaigns and precautionary measures in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. (Read: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) should you worry?)
Saudi Arabia, the most seriously affected country, has reported 371 confirmed infections, including 107 deaths in the past two years. (Read: 12 fast facts about MERS-CoV)
What is MERS?
MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome which is a viral illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.It is caused by a respiratory virus, a previously unseen variant of the coronavirus. It's very similar to a strain of coronavirus found in bats and not the same as the SARS virus that circulated in 2003. Dr Ram Shukla, a specialist in infectious diseases from the UAE tells us 12 important facts about the disease:
Spread by animals in contact with bats
Mostly carried by bats but also some other vertebrates, the MERS Coronovirus spreads very rapidly in animals when they are kept together in confined and crowded places like live-animal markets, slaughter houses and while transporting animals by ships. Close and prolong contact with infected animals, which may not show any symptoms, helps virus jump to human. As it happened in SARS most of the animal traders were found to have SARS antibodies without any symptoms. This is a stage of adaptation to a new host (Inter-species transfer) which led to possible viral genetic mutation to adapt to its new human host. Same may be true for MERS-CoV.
It doesn't spread rapidly among humans
MERS is not transmitted very readily from person-to-person. This may occur after close and prolonged contact with infected patient in closed environment like home, hospitals etc. Infection spreads by coughing, droplet infection. But it can become air borne, meaning spread by air in hospitals when infected patient is given pressurized oxygen, intubated or procedures like bronchoscopy or during the use of pressurized devises like dental drill etc making healthcare workers more susceptible.
Infection control in hospitals and clinics can prevent spread
Healthcare workers getting infected by MERS are reported on a regular basis which shows failure of observing stringent Infection Control Procedures in the hospitals. It is the responsibility of the hospitals to educate their staff, supervise and implement strict Infection Control and isolation procedures. Infected healthcare workers take the infection to their family and wider community. (Read: MERS-CoV update: Six new infections in Saudi Arabia)
With inputs from IANS
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