MERS-CoV: The New SARS and How to Avoid It

You may have heard of it: tourists contracting an influenza-like virus in the Middle East.

A 65 year old French man passed away earlier this year after a trip to the United Arab Emirates, after showing symptoms of a SARS-like disease. Two other British tourists experienced the same symptoms; one of them passed away. In Saudi Arabia, deaths due to this SARS-like menace tolled up to 46 from 98 people infected by MERS-CoV deaths. Reports of these fatal infections have caught the attention of the World Health Organization, which declared to the world to take caution of a new deadly virus: the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

MERS-CoV MERS-CoV is the sixth new type of coronavirus, similar but distinct to the SARS coronavirus that back in 2003 brought a disease wave of 800 deaths in Asia alone. MERS-CoV originated in the Middle East in 2012, and has now spread throughout the Middle East into some European countries, namely France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, and even the UK.

WHO has noted that the virus has evolved quite rapidly since September 2012, taking 38 lives. Around 55 laboratories have given account of MERS-CoV.

This has prompted some governments into caution. Some countries have enacted strict screening for those coming and returning from the endemic countries. Hospitals have also taken to question patients with flu symptoms about their recent travel histories. Visitors with flu are also required to fill in a travel history form, and prohibited from visiting should there be any potential MERS infections. Flu patients and visitors are also required to wear breathing masks to prevent disease spread.

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Obesity and Weight Loss – Bariatric Surgery

bariatric surgery for obesity problemLina, a handicraft entrepreneur, was complaining about breathing difficulties, back pain and knee joint discomforts. At 37, she was already suffering from diabetes and hypertension. Uncomfortable with her current condition, she consulted her family doctor about it.

Weighing 102kg at 158cm, her Body Mass Index (BMI) was 41. Lina was severely obese. Her doctor advised that her health problems would go away if she shed weight.

Determined to lose the pounds, Lina hired a dietician and started adopting a strict diet. She also started to jog with her dog around her home daily. After six months, there was no significant improvement, and Lina got discouraged. The proposed solution did not seem to work for her, and she started researching about other weight loss solutions.

One day, Lina came across an article about celebrities undergoing Bariatric Surgery. Their change was transformational. She felt that she was a good candidate as she fulfilled the following criteria:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 60
  • Absence of alcohol, drug or other emotional problems
  • Have demonstrated serious attempts to lose weight
  • Has a Body Mass Index that is greater than 35 and has obesity-related health conditions, such as diabetes, degenerative joint problems, high blood pressure
  • Agreeable to adopt drastic lifestyle changes and follow-up appointments to maintain weight loss

If you are reading this and you share a similar experience as Lina, you have come to the right place to better understand about weight-loss surgery. Last month, PERSIFY’s editorial team interviewed Associate Professor Jimmy So from the National University Hospital (NUH), Singapore, on obesity and the promises of weight-loss surgery.

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What is Your Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body Mass IndexYour body sends a signal when it’s unwell. What many people might not have known, it can also help you “predict” your future health. Given that obesity is responsible for many health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and stroke, your body weight is one of the best telltale signs.

With easy access to food and the convenience of moving from one place to another, our body is absorbing more calories that we can burn. As this imbalance continues, the average waistline of the population is expanding year by year. Realizing the urgency of fat population and the burden on health infrastructure, American Medical Associations (AMA) officially upgraded “Obesity” from just a lifestyle problem to become a real medical condition.

In fact, based on the “Global Burden on Diseases” study that sorted 291 diseases by country, Dr. Christopher Murray and his colleagues found that obesity has eclipsed malnutrition as the leading cause of preventable death around the world, except for Sub-Saharan Africa.

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