Emergencies preparedness, response

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Qatar

Disease outbreak news
24 May 2015

On 21 May 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Qatar notified WHO of 1 additional case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection

Details of the case are as follows:

A 29-year-old, non-national male from Doha developed symptoms on 15 May and sought medical advice at a primary health care center on 19 May, whereupon he was treated symptomatically and sent home with home isolation instructions. Nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs tested positive for MERS-CoV on 20 May, whereupon the patient was admitted to hospital. He has no comorbidities. The patient has a history of frequent contact with camels but no consumption of raw camel milk. He has no history of exposure to other known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Currently, the patient is in stable condition in a negative pressure isolation room on a ward. Contact tracing of household contacts and healthcare contacts is ongoing for the case.

Globally, WHO has been notified of 1131 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 427 related deaths.

WHO advice

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 facilities. 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.

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, these people should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be 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.