Protect Yourself Against MERSMay 20, 2014
MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is a respiratory illness with around a 30 percent mortality rate. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, protecting yourself from the virus might be easier than you think. Infectious disease expert Dr. Adi Gundlapalli tells you about the one simple thing you can do to help protect yourself against MERS.
Interviewer: You're concerned about the MERS virus. What can you do to protect yourself? It's pretty simple actually. Infectious Disease physician from the University of Utah, Adi Gundlapalli, will talk about that next on The Scope.
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Interviewer: How bad of a thing is this MERS?
Dr. Adi Gundlapalli: It's quite scary because they've had several hundred cases reported, and I think the latest they were talking about was about one-third of them died and so it's a pretty high mortality rate in terms of it. This is sort of reminiscent of the SARS outbreak, or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, in 2003 that caused several thousands of cases around the world. Fortunately, what they've seen is the MERS-Co virus may be less communicable person to person than the SARS was so that may be our saving grace.
As always, in infectious disease/infection control, I think it's very important to go back to the basics. Number one is hand hygiene, or washing your hands. So the buzz word is "hand hygiene." You can do hand hygiene using alcohol-based gel solutions. Sometimes when your hands or soiled or you're dealing with certain types of organisms you have to do soap and water wash.
Interviewer: So even with a virus like this, washing your hands is actually a good weapon against it?
Dr. Adi Gundlapalli: It is a good weapon I think, and the other real good maneuver that helped the world in terms of infection control were isolation precautions. Using what we call personal protective equipment, glove and gown and mask in different combinations for different organisms, is really what helped during SARS and I would think for MERS also it should be and for any other.
Interviewer: It sounds really low tech to me. I kind of want something a little fancier to prevent this from happening.
Dr. Adi Gundlapalli: Well, then maybe we'll charge you more for the very basic preventive ideas. I think back to basics is a good campaign to have.
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