Viral glare on Jeddah pilgrim

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  • Published 14.11.14

Ranchi, Nov. 13: A 62-year-old Haj pilgrim with suspected Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a contagious viral illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, has been quarantined at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi.

Md Osman, a native of Koderma, landed in the state capital from Jeddah — a major urban centre in western Saudi Arabia — last week with high fever, one of the many symptoms of MERS that has a fatality rate of 30 per cent.

He decided to go home for treatment, but doctors in Koderma referred him back to Ranchi.

Dr J.K. Mitra, associate professor of medicine at RIMS, said the patient was under observation in an isolated cabin and was being attended to by medical practitioners who underwent special training in New Delhi last month on handling suspected Ebola and MERS cases.

“The patient has been quarantined and is being observed for two reasons. One, continuous fever for a month; two, he has come from Jeddah, where MERS is common,” Mitra said.

He maintained that MERS was a severe “pneumonia-like respiratory disease” caused by the coronavirus. Symptoms include high fever, cough and severe shortness of breath. “This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living together,” he pointed out.

The good news is the patient is responding to medicines. “We are likely to send his blood samples to National Institute of Virology in Pune and other institutes in Delhi,” Mitra added.

Relatives of Md Osman were not available for comment since no visitor was allowed near the isolation ward.