Emergencies preparedness, response

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

Disease outbreak news
31 May 2015

On 22 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 73-year-old male from Doha city developed symptoms on 10 May and sought medical care at a hospital, whereupon he was treated symptomatically and sent home on the same day. On May 12, as symptoms worsened, the patient was admitted to the same hospital. On 21 May, he tested positive for MERS-CoV. The patient has comorbidities. He has no history of direct contact with camels; however, his family owns a camel barn and family members have a history of contact with camels and consumption of raw camel milk. The patient has no history of exposure to other known risk factors in the 14 days prior to onset of symptoms. Currently, the patient is in critical condition in ICU. Contact tracing of household contacts and healthcare contacts is ongoing for the case.

Globally, WHO has been notified of 1150 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.


* Globally, WHO has been notified of at least 431 MERS-CoV related deaths and not 427, as initially reported.