Are you avoiding people in your surroundings with that hacking cough, cold, or flu? Do you draw your hand back from every doorknob? From a few sniffles to a chesty cough, headache and runny nose, any changes to air-conditioned environments, temperature and a population of constant travelers are culprits often slapped with the blame of the commonly known virus known Middle East Respiratory Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a coronavirus which causes acute respiratory illness in infected patients.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 36 percent of patients suffering from the respiratory infection have died, since it was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Practitioners across the world are cautioned to look out for symptoms of the virus to stop it from spreading. As there is no available vaccine or specific treatment for MERS, the best way to protect yourself is to maintain personal hygiene. This is one of the reasons why the WHO 1 along with many healthcare authorities in different countries, including the U.S. 2, Canada 3, Saudi Arabia 4, and Australia 5, are placing a heavy emphasis on hand hygiene.
Dr. Ashraf Allam, Regional Vice President, MundipharmaMiddle East and Africa region provides us with tips to protect yourself against MERS infections:
1) Wash your hands frequently
Wash your hands frequently with antiseptic soap and water. This is particularly important in public toilets, when travelling, in hospital or in restaurants.
2) Avoid touching your face
Avoid touching your face with your hand to prevent spreading the virus after touching dirty surfaces
3) Practice proper hygiene at home and in public places: Use a handkerchief
When you sneeze or cough use a handkerchief or tissue to cover your nose or mouth. Dispose of the tissue immediately.
4) Wear a surgical mask
5) Disinfect items in public space
When travelling, carry alcohol-based disinfectant wipes to sanitize your surroundings (overhead compartment latch, seatbelt, in-flight entertainment screen and controls, tray table)
6) See a doctor
If you come in close contact with someone who has the MERS infection and you have fallen sick with fever, go see your doctor immediately.
Remember the initial symptoms of MERS are similar to the common cold – fever, cough, shortness of breath. As the disease progresses, though, victims may develop pneumonia or kidney failure.
7) Build up your immune system by making healthy food and beverage choices
Replace immune-damaging beverages like alcohol, sodas (regular and diet), and energy drinks with plenty of fresh, purified water.
A strong immune system can protect you against so many common ailments.