The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of three additional laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.
The first patient is a 67-year-old woman from Riyadh with underlying medical conditions. She became ill on July 25, 2013. She has no known exposure to animals or to a case confirmed with MERS-CoV infection. She is currently hospitalized.
The other two patients are healthcare workers, both women, from Assir and Riyadh regions. Both of them have mild symptoms and were exposed to patients who were laboratory-confirmed cases.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 94 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 46 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, health care workers and visitors.