The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of six additional laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.
The first case is a 41-year-old female healthcare worker from Riyadh with no known underlying medical conditions and who became ill on Aug. 15, 2013. Her condition deteriorated and she died at the end of August. No known exposure to animals, or to a confirmed MERS-CoV case, has been identified and investigations into the source of infection are on-going.
The second case is a 30-year-old Saudi male healthcare worker from Riyadh, working in the same hospital as the above confirmed case. He developed severe pneumonia on Sept. 1, 2013, and is currently in critical condition.
The third case is a 79-year-old woman from Hafar al-Batin province who developed a respiratory illness on Aug. 21, 2013. She is a contact of a confirmed MERS-CoV case in a family cluster. Her condition deteriorated and she died on Sept. 2, 2013.
The fourth case is a 47-year-old Saudi man from Hafar al-Batin province with a chronic heart condition and who became ill on Aug. 23, 2013. He is a contact of a confirmed MERS-CoV case in a family cluster. He is currently in critical condition.
The fifth case is a 66-year-old man who became ill on May 1, 2013 and died on May 10, 2013. The patient was earlier announced as a probable case while his daughter and son were laboratory-confirmed with MERS-CoV. Laboratory-confirmation on the case was recently conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The sixth case was notified by the Ministry of Health in Qatar. The patient is a 56-year-old woman with underlying medical conditions who became ill on Aug. 18, 2013 and died on Aug. 31, 2013. Laboratory-confirmation was recently conducted by Public Health England, UK.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 114 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 54 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 patterns.
Healthcare providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.
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.
Healthcare facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC). Healthcare 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, healthcare workers and visitors.
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.