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Respiratory disease on the rise


At a time when global cases of the deadly respiratory disease is one the rise, the government is planning to conduct a test for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the country.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) said Nepal is highly susceptible to the disease given the huge number of citizens working abroad. The first case of the disease was reported from Saudi Arabia and has gradually been found spreading across countries like France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom among others. According to World Health Organisation, a total of 250 laboratory confirmed cases of MERS-CoV inluding 93 deaths has been recorded from September 2012 to date.

Director of EDCD, Dr Baburam Marasini said weak surveillance mechanism in Tribhuvan International Airport and border areas have exposed the country to the risk of the virus. An estimated 1.5 million Nepalis are currently working in countries across the Middle East, including more than 500,000 in Saudi Arabia.

“We have already written to all the hospitals to remain vigilant on the respiratory illness. However, since the cases of influenza have rapidly increased, we will start the test for cornovirus as well,” said the director, adding that they are discussing with the National Public Health Laboratory to conduct tests for the disease.

The Ministries of Health of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a week ago, had reported 5 laboratory-confirmed cases of the infection with MERS-CoV. Some researches have stated that the disease might have been transmitted through camels and bats.

People with MERS-CoV develop symptoms such as acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Most patients were found to have developed pneumonia and gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhoea.

WHO has been asking all its member states to enhance their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns of SARI or pneumonia cases.

Posted on: 2014-04-23 08:34
The Kathmandu Post

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