MERS: 10 Things You Should Know About The Virus

South Korea on Thursday (Jul 2) reported a new case of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, after four days in which no cases were spotted.

It brought to 183 the total number of people diagnosed with MERS in the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia.

 Of the 183 confirmed cases, 33 have died, 102 have been cured and released from hospital and 48 are still being treated, with 12 of them listed as being in critical condition.

MERS is a respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, it has infected more than 300 people and claimed over 100 lives. Singapore has no reported case so far and measures have also been taken by our local healthcare authorities.

Here are 10 things to know about MERS:
1. It is a type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which includes the common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Yet, MERS is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.

2. It is unclear where the virus came from, though it is likely from an animal source. Besides humans, MERS has been found in camels in Qatar and a bat in Saudi Arabia.

3. MERS can spread between people who are in close contact.

4. Symptoms include acute and severe respiratory symptoms, accompanied by fever, cough, suffocation and difficulty in respiration.

5. There is no vaccine yet. Patients are given supportive medication to help relieve symptoms and deal with complications.

6. About half of those infected have died.

7. There is currently no advisory against travel to countries of the Arabian Peninsula or to countries with reported imported cases of MERS.

8. To protect yourself, observe good personal hygiene at all times, practise frequent hand washing (before handling food and after going to the toilet), avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections and avoid contact with animals. If contact has been made, wash hands thoroughly with soap.

9. Frequent travelers to affected countries are advised to get vaccinated against influenza and meningitis. Those aged 65 and above or have chronic medical conditions should also get vaccinated against pneumococcal infections.

10. If you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travelling to affected countries, see a doctor immediately. Mention your travel history.

At the moment, having a powerful immune system is your best defense and could mean the difference between life and death. To be well armed with a strong immune system, we recommend you to consider taking the supplements below:

 Vitamin C (Suggestion: Max-C-Mum 500mg)
Pycnogenol® (Suggestion: Nature's Farm® Pycnogenol® 100mg)
Garlic Extract (Suggestion: Wakunaga Kyolic® Formula 103)
Probiotics (Suggestion: Premium Probiotics+)
Multivitamin Supplements (Suggestions: Nature's Farm® Super Multis / Women's Wonder Mega / Men's Super Mega)