Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist February 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist February 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 37
A virus to watch out for
By David Clancy
First detected in September 2012 in
Saudi Arabia, MERS -- CoV is reported
to have infected 896 people in
12 countries, resulting in 357 fatalities.
To date all cases reported to WHO have
originated in the Arabian Peninsula.
Most of those infected develop
symptoms which include severe acute
respiratory illness, a fever, cough
and shortness of breath. Other early
symptoms to be alert for include sore
throat, runny nose, headache, diarrhoea,
nausea, vomiting, chills and body aches.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a
respiratory Coronavirus. A coronavirus
caused the outbreak of SARS (severe
acute respiratory syndrome), resulting in
nearly 800 deaths in 2003.
The incubation period is from two to
14 days. It is believed that patients
are not contagious during this period.
However, an infected MERS-CoV patient
can spread the syndrome to others
in close physical contact, primarily to
healthcare workers. However, only four
instances of transmission within any
household with no large family clusters
have been reported.
It has been suggested that the virus may
enjoy a reservoir in camels and possibly
bats throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
Travellers should practice common
hygiene measures including regular
hand washing before and after touching
animals and avoiding contact with
sick animals. They should also avoid
consuming raw camel milk, camel urine,
or undercooked camel meat.
A severe MERS-CoV infection is
considered as a high risk to people
with diabetes, people suffering from a
chronic lung disease, kidney failure or an
Countries affected without any deaths are:
With millions of pilgrims travelling
to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj each
October, it is feared that the virus has
the potential to spread rapidly beyond
the region. However this is yet to
occur. There have been no recorded
MERS among Hajj pilgrims in the past
• International Journal of Infectious
Diseases Online: www.ijidonline.com.
• Australian Government Department
of Health: www.health.nsw.gov.
au (Once at the site, select home,
followed by infectious diseases then
proceed to alert)
(This site supplies information sheets
for GPs, health professionals and
• World Health Organisation: www.who.
• Centres for Disease Control
and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/
Stem cell therapies
With 104 programs in late-stage
clinical development, the stem
cell therapy space could reach the
commercialisation threshold by 2017,
but a number of challenges remain,
according research released by
consulting firm GlobalData. The report
states that complicated manufacturing
processes, untested regulatory
pathways and a demanding economic
landscape are the largest barriers to
progress in the stem cell sector, with
a number of companies finding the
business unviable. Aparna Krishnan,
MS, GlobalData's Analyst covering
Healthcare Industry Dynamics,
says that the financial challenges to
the industry have been profound,
intensified by the technology's high
failure rates. 'Most firms operating
in stem cells are undercapitalised
and rely heavily on research grants,
leveraged finance, and capital raised
from public offerings or venture capital
investment to fund their research
efforts and expansion.'
Diabetic eye disease resource
The Macular Disease Foundation
Australia with guidance from the
Foundation's National Research Advisor
Professor Paul Mitchell, has produced
a booklet, on diabetic eye disease for
patients with, or at risk of, diabetes.
Professor Mitchell said: 'The booklet,
Diabetic Eye Disease, is an excellent
resource for ophthalmologists to use
when alerting patients to the very
real risks of blindness associated with
diabetes. As we know, there is a major
issue with diabetes and retinopathy.
We're seeing many people far too late
which highlights the important role
of education, raising awareness and
early detection.' The free publication
is available from Macular Disease
Foundation Australia (toll free 1800 111
709) or through: www.mdfoundation.
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