Italian Ministry of Health notifies WHO of MERS-CoV cases


The Ministry of Health in Italy has notified WHO of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the country. The first Italian case was notified over the weekend in a resident in the country.

The first case is a 45-year-old man with recent travel from Jordan. He returned to Italy on 25 May 2013 with symptoms of cough and fatigue. His condition deteriorated and he was hospitalised on 28 May 2013. He is currently in a stable condition.

The two additional laboratory-confirmed cases, a two-year-old girl and a 42-year-old woman, are both close contacts of the first case above. They are also in stable condition.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 53 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 30 deaths.

Several countries in the Arabian Peninsula have been affected, including Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Cases have also been reported by France, Germany, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, they were either transferred for care of the disease or returned from the Arabian Peninsula and subsequently became ill. In France, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, there has also been limited local transmission among patients who had not been to the Arabian Peninsula but had been in close contact with laboratory-confirmed or probable cases.

On 17 May 2013 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. Any clusters of SARI or SARI in healthcare workers should be thoroughly investigated, regardless of where in the world they occur.
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 i.e. Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries.

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 such as diarrhoea in patients who are significantly immunocompromised.

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.

The following document has recently been published on the WHO website:
• MERS-CoV summary and literature update

For more information see

See also:
Health Protection Agency UK
World Health Organization
WHO Global overview of an emerging novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
World Health Organization-Europe
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control