Be alert for MERS-CoV and Avian flu, doctors told

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 05 Feb 2017

SEREMBAN: Doctors have been told to report any Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Avian influenza (AI) cases to the health authorities within 24 hours to allow them to take immediate precautionary measures.

Apart from confirmed cases, it is also mandatory for medical practitioners to report suspected cases.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said action could be taken against any doctor who failed to do so as provided under the Prevention And Control of Infectious Diseases Act.

“It is important that we are notified immediately of any confirmed, probable or suspected case so that we can take measures to control its spread and treatment of the patient,” he said, adding that the notification should also be entered into the ministry’s eNotifikasi or infectious diseases information system.

Dr Noor Hisham said in a directive that although the authorities cannot ascertain the number of MERS-CoV confirmed cases in Malaysia, the number of suspected cases had increased from 125 in 2013 to 726 in 2015.

A 54-year-old Malaysian was the first to die of the disease in April 2014. The victim had returned after performing umrah in Saudi Arabia when he fell ill.

He said based on investigations by international medical authorities, the MERS-CoV virus was believed to have originated from camels and was prevalent in the Arab peninsula.

To date, MERS-CoV cases have been reported in 27 countries, with the majority being in Saudi Arabia.

On the AI cases which include the H5N1, H9N2 and H7N9 strains reported in 16 countries, Dr Noor Hisham said humans can only be infected if exposed to chickens, ducks and other birds infected with the bird flu virus.

He said those with high fever and cough or breathing problems and had been in contact with a dead fowl at least 10 days before falling sick becomes a suspected case.

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