Revision of MERS Screening Strategies Urgently Needed, Researchers Say

April 11, 2018

Amer, et al. (2018) assessed the transmission risks of MERS-CoV infection to healthcare workers (HCWs) in an outbreak in Riyadh. All HCWs with unprotected exposure to confirmed cases were tested after 24 hours of exposure. Two negative results for MERS-CoV 3 days apart and being free of any suggestive signs and symptoms were used to stop their isolation.

The researchers report that overall, 17 out 1223 HCWS with different level of exposure tested positive for MERS-CoV. Of the 15 positive HCWS with adequate follow up, 40% (6/15 HCWs) tested positive on the first sampling & 53% (8/15) tested positive on the second sampling. While the range of time to negative results among the 15 positive HCWs was between 4 to 47 days (average of 14.5 days) and on average infected HCWs needed 2 samples for clearance. All positive HCWs were either asymptomatic or had mild disease.

The researchers conclude that the data supports the liberal testing of all close contacts of MERS-CoV cases irrelevant to the significance of contact or presence or absence of symptoms. In addition, urgent careful review of guidance allowing return of asymptomatic MERS-CoV positive HCWs under investigation to active duty.

Reference: Amer H, et al. Healthcare Workers Exposure to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV): Revision of Screening Strategies Urgently Needed. International Joural of Infectious Diseases. Article in Press: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2018.04.001