Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Oman
On 4 March 2018, the National IHR focal point of Oman reported one additional case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The patient was a 74-year-old male Omani national, living in Batinah, who had symptom onset on 23 February 2018. The patient had neither recently travelled nor had any contact with any person with respiratory symptoms or with a known MERS-CoV case. The patient took care of camels that were reportedly ill. The investigation of the patient’s exposure in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms is still ongoing.
Prior to this patient, the last laboratory-confirmed case of MERS-CoV from Oman was reported in November 2017.
Globally, 2144 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, including at least 750 related deaths, have been reported to WHO.
Details of the case
Detailed information concerning the patient reported can be found in a separate document (see link below).
Public health response
Identification, tracing and follow up of family and health care workers contacts is ongoing, including MERS-CoV screening. All identified contacts will be monitored for 14 days from the last possible date of exposure.
WHO risk assessment
Infection with MERS-CoV can cause severe disease and subsequently, results in a high mortality rate. Humans are infected with MERS-CoV from direct or indirect contact with dromedary camels. MERS-CoV has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. So far, the observed unsustained human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in health care settings.
The notification of additional cases does not change the overall risk assessment. WHO expects that additional cases of MERS-CoV infection will be reported from the Middle East, and that cases will continue to be exported to other countries by individuals who might acquire the infection after exposure to animals or animal products (for example, following contact with dromedaries) or human sources (for example, in a health care setting). WHO continues to monitor the epidemiological situation and conducts risk assessment based on the latest available information.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.
Infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS-CoV in health care settings. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because, like other respiratory infections, the early symptoms of MERS-CoV are non-specific. Therefore, health care workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis. Droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection; contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection; airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures.
Community and household awareness of MERS-CoV, including prevention measures in the home, may reduce household transmission and prevent community clusters.
Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS-CoV infection. Therefore, in addition to avoiding close contact with suspected or confirmed human cases of the disease, people with these conditions should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be or potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, should be adhered to.
Food hygiene practices should be observed. People should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.
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.