Docs get trained to handle MERS, despite lack of diagnostic test

The dreaded MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) may not be a scary proposition for people in the city, as no cases have been diagnosed or even reported till date

Published: 15th July 2014 07:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th July 2014 07:27 AM   |  A+A-


CHENNAI: The dreaded MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) may not be a scary proposition for people in the city, as no cases have been diagnosed or even reported till date: but that hasn’t stopped infectious diseases experts and the health department from prepping to handle it, in the event of an outbreak.Recently, five doctors from government hospitals in Chennai and Tiruvallur attended a training programme in Bengaluru to learn how to identify, diagnose and handle MERS.

Rampant in the Middle East, with cases being reported every day, there is a standing fear that the disease will reach our shores with the number of people travelling from the Arab countries to India. “The majority of people who come from there are usually Kerala-bound and so there is a stronger screening process there.But we are also building a similar process as there are a lot of people travelling to Chennai from the Middle East as well,” said a Health Department official. Confirming the same, Director of Public Health Dr K Kulandaisamy also said that information about MERS would be disseminated to all block-level medical officers to stay vigilant for signs of the virus.

However, diagnosing MERS may not be as easy as taking candy from a baby. Especially, when the diagnostic tests aren’t available here yet. “To my knowledge, the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests that are needed to diagnose MERS are not available in the country. First, because there are no confirmed cases here and second because it is expensive and needs to be imported at the moment,” explained Dr V Ramasubramanian, senior consultant in Infectious Diseases, HIV, Tropical and Travel Medicine at Apollo Hospitals.

Following a CME programme on infectious diseases conducted on Sunday, he added, “The NIV at Pune has the test protocols available, but unless we have it available in the mainstream here, it will be very difficult to actually diagnose and differentiate a disease as MERS.” The disease has symptoms just like any other respiratory syndrome and can spread from person to person through sputum and contact.

Stay up to date on all the latest Chennai news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp