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Code: 273658
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Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
MERS cases drop sharply
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The number of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) corona virus cases has dropped drastically in the Kingdom, with only one death being reported from Makkah and an infection in Dhuba in the last seven days.

“This is the fifth consecutive week the Ministry of Health has observed a sharp decline in the number of MERS patients,” an official said, adding that people should still continue to take all precautionary measures against the disease.

The ministry will also continue to take maximum precautions, the official said.

During the period, the ministry tested some 1,009 samples and the number of visits by the Rapid Response teams were limited to less than five.

A total of 979 cases have been reported since June 2012, which included 428 deaths and 548 recoveries, while three are currently being treated in hospitals.

Health ministry spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani said a 24-hour hotline 937 has been opened to help members of the public on matters related to MERS. He said that the caller’s identity will not be revealed and that the authorities will offer services as required.

The official said that three major hospitals in Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah have been designated as centers of excellence to treat MERS patients. In addition to these facilities, he said, the ministry has assigned 20 more well-equipped hospital in all the health regions.

According to WHO, the picture on the source of the virus is not yet clear. Strains of MERS-CoV that match human strains have been isolated from camels in Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These and other studies have found MERS-CoV antibodies in camels across Africa and the Middle East.

Human and camel genetic sequence data demonstrate a close link between the virus found in camels and that found in people. It is possible that other reservoirs exist.Other animals including goats, cows, sheep, buffaloes, swine, and wild birds have been tested for antibodies to MERS-CoV, but so far none have been found in these animals.

These studies support the premise that camels are a likely source of infection in humans.

As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns or other places where animals are present should take general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and avoid contact with sick animals.

The consumption of raw or under-cooked animal products, including milk and meat, carries a high risk of infection from a variety of organisms.

Animal products processed appropriately through cooking or pasteurization are safe for consumption, but should also be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious and can be consumed after pasteurization, cooking or other heat treatments.

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