Bahrain on SARS-alert after 15 Saudi deaths
Manama, May 15, 2013
Health workers in Bahrain have been briefed on emergency procedures as the deadly SARS-like novel coronavirus caused the death of 15 people in Saudi Arabia, with at least nine in the kingdom’s Eastern Province.
No suspected cases have been reported in Bahrain, Health Ministry public health and primary care assistant under-secretary Dr Mariam Al Jalahma was reported as saying by the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
But she said all health professionals had been briefed on what symptoms to look out for and were made aware of World Health Organisation (WHO) and government regulations on the epidemiological situation of the virus locally, regionally and globally.
"We have strengthened the surveillance system for acute respiratory infections and have developed a plan to deal with suspected cases, including the arrangement of samples testing at reference laboratories," she told the GDN.
Bahrain is also in constant touch with the WHO.
"All health centres and other facilities, public and private, have been asked to report anything suspicious," said Dr Al Jalahma.
At least 28 cases of the virus, which can be passed between humans by prolonged, close contact, have been reported in Saudi.
Dr Al Jalahma said the source of human exposure of the virus was still unknown.
"Analysis of the genes of these viruses suggests that although they have evolved in birds, they may infect mammals more easily than other avian viruses," she said.
"The virus has now been found in chickens, ducks and captive-bred pigeons at markets near locations where cases have been reported. The possibility of an animal source of the infection is being investigated, as well as the possibility of person-to-person transmission."
Moreover, Dr Al Jalahma said it was safe to eat properly prepared and cooked meat.
"Diseased animals and animals that have died of diseases should not be eaten and, in areas experiencing outbreaks, meat products can be safely consumed provided that these items are properly cooked and handled during preparation," she said.
Dr Al Jalahma said it was important to follow basic hygienic practices to prevent infection.
"It includes hand and respiratory hygiene and food safety steps," she said. "People should cover the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing and throw used tissues into a closed bin immediately after use."
Meanwhile, new research published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology has highlighted the danger posed to diabetics.
A study, co-authored by Dr Ben Evans of Anglia Ruskin University in England, and funded by Saudi's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and King Faisal University, has shown that diabetic patients with an "Acinetobacter baumannii" infection were more likely to contract strains of the bacterium that were resistant to antibiotics.
"It only affects people whose immune system has been compromised and is mainly contracted in hospitals," said research. – TradeArabia News Service