Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - update
18 October 2013 -
WHO has been informed of an additional laboratory-confirmed
cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
infection in Qatar.
The patient is a 61-year-old man with underlying medical
conditions who was admitted to a hospital on 11 October 2013. He is
currently hospitalized and is in a stable condition. The patient was
tested positive for MERS-CoV infection in Qatar and was confirmed by the
reference laboratory of Public Health England yesterday.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the patient had not
travelled outside Qatar in the two weeks prior to becoming ill. The
patient owns a farm and has had significant contact with the animals,
including camels, sheep and hens. Some of the animals in his farm have
been tested and were negative for MERS-CoV. Further investigations into
the case and the animals in the farm are ongoing.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed
of a total of 139 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV,
including 60 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
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
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.