December 2, 2013
2 December 2013 -
On 1 December 2013 WHO was informed of an additional three
laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory
syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the United Arab Emirates
The three cases belong to a family in Abu Dhabi – a mother (32
years old) who died 2 December 2013*, father (38 years old) and son (8
years old). The earliest onset of illness was 15 November 2013. The
father is in a critical condition in hospital. The mother and father had
no travel history, no contact with a known confirmed case and no
history of contact with animals. While hospitalized, the mother gave
birth to a newborn child. The 8 year old son, who has mild respiratory
symptoms, was detected from epidemiological investigation of family
contacts, and is being kept in hospital isolation. Further
investigations into close contacts of the family, the newborn baby, and
healthcare workers are on-going.
Additionally, two previously laboratory-confirmed cases from Qatar died on 15 and 21 November 2013**.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed
of a total of 163 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV,
including 71 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
Patients diagnosed and reported to date have had respiratory
disease as their primary illness. Diarrhoea is commonly reported among
the patients and severe complications include renal failure and acute
respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with shock. It is possible that
severely immunocompromised patients can present with atypical signs and
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.
People at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should
avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where
the virus is known to be potentially circulating. For the general
public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such
as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding
contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should
be adhered to.
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.