Travel Alert – Saudi Arabia – MERS Risk

Government Warns of MERS Risk from Camels amid Reports of Three New Fatalities

Category: Health and Medical

Severity: 2 (Low)

Source: Drum Cussac

05/12/2014 (Saudi Arabia) – The Saudi Agriculture Ministry on Sunday, 11 May, urged citizens to wear masks and gloves when dealing with camels, according to media reports. The ministry’s statement also advised boiling camel milk and only eating cooked camel meat. There is growing evidence that camels are a major source of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The advice and warning came as Saudi Arabia reported three deaths from MERS on Sunday, raising the death toll from the disease to 133. The rate of infection in the country nearly doubled in April and rose by a further 25 per cent in the first ten days of May. There are already reports that a number of Saudi citizens are wearing face masks in crowded places. In response, the government has ordered that MERS is raised to alert level 2. It means that people should practice enhanced precautions to prevent any possible spread of the virus. This supersedes alert level 1 which advises usual precautions against flu-like illnesses. Alert level 3 means avoid non-essential travel.

Saudi health officials remain confident that they have the situation under control despite the recent surge in the number of cases and fatalities. There is no vaccine for the disease. Preventative measures and early detection are considered the best practice solution to minimise contraction. Washing hands with soap and water frequently can mitigate contraction. Avoid close contact with sick people. Travellers should see a doctor if they develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath.

Copyright © 2014 Drum Cussac

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