The World Health Organization has published a new MERS update which details 43 MERS cases reported between February 8th and the 19th in Saudi Arabia. Due to the length of this update (3500+ words) I’ve snipped the case details, but you can view them on the WHO DON site.
A small number of these cases had contact with camels, or camel products, although it is far from certain whether they contracted the virus from those sources.
An even smaller number appear to have had community contact with previously confirmed cases (likely family members).
The remainder appears divided up between those who had no known risk exposure (18 of 43 or 42%), and those who may have had some type of healthcare-related exposure, although in some of these cases there is no obvious chain of infection.
The bottom line is we still don’t have a good idea about how this virus is transmitting among people (see today’s Saudi Arabia: WHO MERS Mission Summary), or what role that mild (undiagnosed) or asymptomatic cases might play in the spread of this virus.
Disease outbreak news
23 February 2015
Between 8 and 19 February 2015, the IHR National Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 43 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 14 deaths. Cases are listed by date of reporting, with the most recent case listed first.
Details of the cases are as follows:
The IHR National Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also notified WHO of the death of 2 previously reported MERS-CoV cases. The cases were reported in a previous DON on 16 February (cases n. 1 and 3).
Contact tracing of household contacts and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.
Globally, WHO has been notified of 1026 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 376 related deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.
Infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS-CoV in health care facilities. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because like other respiratory infections, the early symptoms of MERS-CoV are non-specific. Therefore, health-care workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis. Droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection; contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection; airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures.
Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS‐CoV infection. Therefore, these people should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, should be adhered to.
Food hygiene practices should be observed. People should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.
WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.