Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV): update on cases- 20th May 2013


The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has informed WHO of an additional laboratory-confirmed case with infection of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The patient was identified as part of the ongoing investigation into an outbreak that began in a health care facility since the beginning of April 2013. She was in the same health care facility previously identified as the focus of this outbreak, from 8 to 28 April 2013. To date, a total of 22 patients including nine deaths, have been reported from this outbreak in the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia. The government is conducting ongoing investigation into the outbreak.

From September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a global total of 41 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 20 deaths. Several countries in the Middle East have been affected, including Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Cases have also been reported by three countries in Europe: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. All of the European cases have had a direct or indirect connection to the Middle East, including two cases with recent travel history from the UAE. In France and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among close contacts who had not been to the Middle East but had been in contact with a traveller who recently returned from the Middle East.

On May 17th the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued an updated rapid risk assessment on MERS-CoV.

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns. Testing for MERS-CoV should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonias, or in patients with unexplained severe, progressive illness or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment, particularly in persons travelling from or resident in areas of the world known to be affected.
Health care facilities that provide care for patients with suspected MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors. Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures.

Specimens from patients’ lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis where possible. Clinicians are reminded that MERS-CoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms in patients who are significantly immunocompromised.

Any clusters of SARI or SARI in healthcare workers should be thoroughly investigated, regardless of where in the world they occur.

New cases and clusters of MERS-CoV should be promptly reported to local Departments of Public Health.
WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO continues to monitor the situation closely.

For more information see http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Respiratory/CoronavirusInfections/

See also:
Health Protection Agency UK
World Health Organization

World Health Organization-Europe
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control