Cases of MERS otherwise known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are yet to be reported in Saudi Arabia in this year’s hajj but we must be cautious. The disease is caused by a coronavirus named after its crown-like shape The source of the virus is still unknown so is the mode of transmission but bats are suspected as well as some mammals, It is believed man can contract it from animals and also from infected persons (most likely by droplets resulting from coughing and sneezing). It has been reported in the following countries in the past -Tunisia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirate (UAE), Germany, France and Italy, No case has been reported in Africa, this maybe due to diagnosis failure since several Africans perform the hajj every year.
MERS is a respiratory disease with the following symptoms:
a. Productive cough.
b. Shortness of breath.
c. General feeling of being unwell.
d. Chest pain.
f. Diarrhea in some cases
g. Acute Renal failure.
The disease can degenerate into pneumonia, kidney failure and death. Fatality rate is high, Only 136 cases of the disease have been confirmed world wide but with 58 deaths.
Our pilgrims in Saudi Arabia should take the following precautions
a. Avoid people with the above symptoms.
b. Always wash your hands after contact with such people and regularly throughout the stay.
c. Drink only bottled water.
d. Eat only well-cooked meat.
e. Eat only well-washed fruits and vegetables.
Nigerian pilgrims returning from this hajj who are ill with the above symptoms must report to the nearest hospital and can reduce spread to family members, friends and the general public by:
a. Avoiding close contact with others until they are well.
b. Should use disposable face mask until sneezing and
c. Sneeze and cough into tissue papers and dispose
them properly such as flushing them down the toilet..