Two patients earlier reported as laboratory-confirmed with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Italy in the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Disease Outbreak News issued on June 2, 2013 are being reclassified as probable cases. The reclassification follows further analysis of the laboratory tests performed in May 2013, which has shown that the two cases do not fulfil the current WHO case definition for a "confirmed case" for MERS-CoV. The two cases are the two-year-old girl and a 42-year-old woman who were identified as close contacts of the index case who traveled from Jordan.
A "probable" designation by WHO criteria refers to patients who are considered to have a high likelihood of having been infected with MERS-CoV, but from whom adequate samples could not be obtained for complete testing according to the current criteria established for laboratory confirmation.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 130 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 58 deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all of its 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.