Disease Outbreak News
4 September 2013 – WHO has been informed of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The first case was notified by the Ministry of Health in Tunisia. The patient was a 66-year-old man who became ill on 1 May 2013 and died on 10 May 2013. The patient was earlier announced as a probable case while his daughter and son were laboratory-confirmed with MERS-CoV (DON published on 22 May 2013). Laboratory-confirmation on the case was recently conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The second case was notified by the Ministry of Health in Qatar. The patient was a 56-year-old woman with underlying medical conditions who became ill on 18 August 2013 and died on 31 August 2013. Laboratory-confirmation was recently conducted by Public Health England, UK.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 110 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 52 deaths.
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.
Health care providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.
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 immunocompromised.
Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC). Health care facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors.
All Member States are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with MERS-CoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course. Investigation into the source of exposure should promptly be initiated to identify the mode of exposure, so that further transmission of the virus can be prevented.
WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.
WHO has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to advise the Director-General on the status of the current situation. The Emergency Committee, which comprises international experts from all WHO Regions, unanimously advised that, with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met.