I also belong to Middle East: But beware of me (MERS)

Despite huge progress and success in medical science, scientists are facing new health-related challenges every day. We have become successful to control many infectious problems but there are still many problems which urge scientist to focus their directions on them. Medical scientists are facing alarming situations due to sudden outbreaks of newly reported diseases including Ebola Virus infection and the Middle East respiratory syndrome with dangerous morbidity and mortality rates.


The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The first case of MERS was reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and there was a thought that this disease spread due to certain infection in camels and it was endemic in Saudi Arabia (so this name was given). The first death was also reported due to this illness in Saudi Arabia in July 2012. But after a short period of time it became Pandemic and cases were reported globally including London, France, Italy, and Abu Dhabi. First death due to MERS in Abu Dhabi was reported in July 2013 (one year after in Saudi Arabia). Till September 2013, total of 45 deaths have been reported from confirmed cases. Out of these 38 deaths have occurred in Saudi Arabia.

Mode of Transmission:

The virus can spread from one person to another through close contact and transmission of the pathogen to health care personnel has also been reported.

Recent Challenges:

In the last week of May and the first week of June 2015, a new pandemic of this disease is reported at a large scale. Twelve cases in Korea has been reported in those persons who have returned from Saudi Arabia and these patients are under observation. Another exposure to Chinese people has also been reported in those citizens who have currently returned from Korea. Since transmission of this sickness occurs due to close contact with an infected person, Chinese Govt. is in search of passengers who were in close proximity to the person having the disease to keep them under observation in order to control the widespread of the disease.


Matter of Concern for Government of Pakistan:

Due to large population working in the Middle East and No of Persons present for work and other activities in China, there may be an incidence for the virus to enter in Pakistan so we should take care of it.

We should have to make checkpoints at airports and seaports to identify any suspected case in the large scale of public interest. We should take steps for awareness of the public and stop MERS from entering in Pakistan. We should equip our health care personnel regarding the current epidemic of the problem and its precautionary measures as the pathogen has greater tendency to affect health care personnel having (having close contact with patients) less precautionary measures and carelessness.

Author: Hafiz Hasnain Ayoub

Science lab awareness classes in various schools by PSM team members

Some highlights from Science lab awareness classes from PSM Science lab awareness month. The ultimate aim of training students in a science lab is not merely to fill them with facts, but to help them learn how to approach and analyze a problem. How do we formulate questions and establish facts? How do we determine the meanings of observations? How do we reason? Teaching students to think critically can be approached by helping them develop an awareness of the steps one goes through in a scientific investigation. A difficult thing to convey to students is that everyone is capable of doing science. Students’ lack of confidence in their scientific abilities often results from high school science courses in which they were taught only to memorize facts and formulae. As a result, they never learned that science is as much a way of thinking as it is a body of knowledge. These students can often be helped by using examples of hypothesis formulation and testing that relate to non-laboratory situations.

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT): a cost-effective, sustainable method

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) was initiated by E.F. Knipling and R.C. Bushland (winners of world food prize 1992 for the development of SIT) in the 1930s, when they worked with the screwworm fly, a devastating pest of cattle in North America. The first successful use of SIT to control screwworm was on the island of Curaçao in 1953. Since then SIT has been further developed to suppress more than 20 insect pests, many of them fruit flies and other key agricultural pests.

Approach to Sterilizing Fruit Flies

The sterile insect technique, or SIT, has been used for decades to control insects such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. Basically, insects are exposed to radiation, which makes them sterile, and then they’re released into the wild to mate. However, since they’re sterile, no viable offspring are produced.

Low-oxygen Environment verses Sterile Insect Longevity

The sterile insect technique, or SIT, has been used for decades. Insects are irradiated so they become sterile, and then they’re released into the wild where they find mates. However, since they are sterile, there are no offspring, thus trimming the population and the threat to agricultural crops. The technique has been used effectively against the Mediterranean fruit fly, called the Medfly, and the cattle-infesting screw-worm fly, among others.

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a cost-effective, sustainable method

SIT involves releasing millions of sterile insects over a wide area to mate with the native insects present. Mating of released sterile males with native females leads to a decrease in the females’ reproductive potential because their offspring do not survive. Ultimately, if males are released in sufficient numbers over a sufficient period, this leads to the local elimination or suppression of the pest population. SIT is species-specific and has no effect on other ‘non-target’ species. This ‘birth control’ strategy is therefore environmentally clean and sustainable. SIT approaches are good at reducing low populations to very low levels in contrast to insecticides which are good at reducing high populations to low ones.