Although sporadic MERS cases have been reported over the past couple of months, based on the past two years we expect a bigger surge of cases later in the spring. While camels are believed to be the zoonotic source of the virus, and are likely responsible for reseeding the virus into the community, most of the infections we’ve seen are the result of human-to-human transmission.
Hospitals and clinics – particularly dialysis centers – have been cited as prime locations for transmission, and nosocomial spread may be linked to as many as half the cases reported.
We’ll have a better idea of the risks when, and if, the long-promised Saudi case control study on MERS is released (see KSA Announces Start To Long-Awaited MERS Case Control Study). What is clear is the number of times dialysis units have been linked to clusters of cases.
On October 27th, in Saudi MOH Statement On Recent MERS Cases, we learned (6) recorded cases in Ta'if were of patients undertaking hemodialysis in King Abdul Aziz hospital, while a week prior, in Saudi MOH Statement On Recent MERS Cases In Taif the following steps were announced:
- The dialysis unit at King Abdulaziz Hospital is being disinfected. To reduce overcrowding, the Ministry is moving up to 20 additional dialysis machines to King Faisal Hospital, which will allow the Ministry to divert some dialysis patients there from King Abdulaziz Hospital to King Faisal Hospital.
- MOH dialysis units in Taif are adding an additional shift with the goal of preventing infection by reducing the number of patients who are being treated in each session.
Previously dialysis units in Mecca, Jeddah, and Riyadh have been linked to clusters of MERS cases.
In recent months the Saudi MOH has issued more stringent infection control protocols for all healthcare settings in hopes of curtailing these nosocomial transmissions, but it appears not every facility has compiled.
This from the Saudi MOH.
January 15th, 2015
Ministry of Health closed a dialysis centers in Riyadh; due to a lack of commitment to the application of infection control mechanisms approved by the command and control center at the Ministry of Health.
The ministry has shown that it has to provide the special status of the instructions and special procedures to improve the terms of protection from infection, and give him a deadline to correct; where they will be re-evaluated again by the Directorate of Health Affairs in Riyadh to ensure its conformity necessary to provide maximum protection for citizens and residents of health standards.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health Public Health Chairman command and control center D.abdaziz bin Said "that these efforts and events coincide with the steps command and control center early to get ready for the season to increase the incidence of HIV Coruna, and is expected to increase its activity during the current period, according to epidemiological studies that have been implemented over the past years. "
He pointed out that the center is the permanent surveillance of all epidemic diseases and advance preparation for prevention, monitoring and follow-up data of disease and response coordination and rapid intervention to control them when they occur and eliminate them before the outbreak. Adding that the command and control center and its branches in the regions, God willing, will enhance the department's ability to do proactive and quick action against any future challenges related to public health in the UK, such as Corona, through coordination efforts and continuous monitoring of the virus that causes respiratory syndrome Middle East.
It should be noted that the command and control center at the Ministry of Health will apply infection control diseases Corona and Ebola viruses in health facilities mechanisms, which have been adopted and circulated to all the departments of Health Affairs in the provinces and regions, as part of the center's efforts to tackle the virus Corona and Ebola, and to continue to pursue the ministry to establish and support all factors to curb the epidemic diseases in the UK.
The ministry stressed the importance of prevention of infection, and advised the following practices, a washing hands with soap and water, and avoid contact with patients, and to refrain from touching the eyes, nose, and be coughing into a tissue or put the arm on the mouth and then wash your hands as well as the arm carefully, and avoid dealing in close with infected camels respiratory symptoms, and a commitment to preventive measures when dealing with camels, and maintain good health habits in general.
For more information can be found on the ministry's website