First case of MERS in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has confirmed the first case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) after a 53-year-old man returning from the US via Abu Dhabi was found afflicted with it.

Nurul Islam
Published : 15 June 2014, 07:29 AM
Updated : 15 June 2014, 10:01 AM

Prof Mahmudur Rahman, director of the national disease control agency, IEDCR, said the man was recuperating in a hospital.

“We have notified it to the WHO,” he told on Sunday.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Viruses in this family also cause a number of animal diseases.

The strain of coronavirus that causes MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and has remained a global concern since then.

It has spread to 22 countries, including Bangladesh, from the Middle-East.

So far, WHO recorded 699 cases of MERS with a mortality rate of 30 percent.

WHO says its understanding of the virus and the disease it causes is continuing to evolve.

Prof Rahman, also a WHO expert on the board reviewing MERS, warned against unnecessary panic .

He said the virus has not spread further within the country after it has come here from the Middle East.
“We urge everyone to report to the hospital if they fall sick after returning from particularly abroad”.
The first case was detected on Sunday. The 53-year-old man had returned Dhaka on June 4.
Symptoms showed up on June 6 and the person landed up in a hospital on June 9 with severe breathlessness.
The IEDCR director said they had made hospitals aware of the disease so that they report them if a suspect patient was found.
“We have tested 39 suspects, but only has tested positive so far,” Rahman said.
He said they had tested several times in the past but this virus was indeed new to Bangladesh.
IEDCR hosts WHO-accredited laboratory to detect viruses.
“We even took a second sample from him,” he said, “he is recuperating”.
“He (patient) was shifted from the ICU to general bed,” he said.
At least 1500 doctors have been trained up to handle the new infection across Bangladesh, he said.

No travel restriction

Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis live in middle-eastern countries.

Thousands also travel to Saudi Arabia, which is grappling to contain the virus, for performing Umra and Hajj.

However, WHO has not issued any travel restriction advisory -- rather it issued guidelines for those planning to travel to middle-eastern countries, particularly for pilgrimages.

It asked countries to advice travellers that persons now suffering ailments like diabetes, lung disease, and immunodeficiency are more likely to develop severe infection for MERS if they are exposed to the virus.
It says pilgrims should be advised to consult a health care provider before travelling to review the risk and assess whether making the pilgrimage is advisable.
It also asked countries to advice travellers and travel operators on general travel health precautions, which will lower the risk of infection in general, like influenza and traveller’s diarrhoea.
Specific emphasis has to be given in hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.
WHO suggested covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing hands, and keeping a distance of one metre with other persons who have fever and breathing distress.
It also asked to avoid undercooked meat or food prepared under improper sanitary conditions as camels have been infected with the virus that can pass on to the human.