Tuesday, September 20, 2016

WHO MERS-CoV Update - Austria


Ten days ago, in Austria Reports Imported MERS-CoV Case ex Saudi Arabia, I wrote about a a very brief announcement from Austrian MOH's (BMGF) and a media report on an imported MERS case. 

This is the second imported case for Austria, with the first occurring in September of 2014 (see Austria Reports 1st Imported MERS Case (ex- KSA))

Since then, we've heard very little, but today the World Health Organization has posted the following update. 


Disease Outbreak News
20 September 2016 

On 8 September 2016 the National IHR Focal Point for Austria notified WHO of a laboratory confirmed case of Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. This is the second case of MERS-CoV in Austria. (The first MERS-CoV case in Austria was notified on 30 September 2014).

Details of the case reported are as follows

The patient is a 67 year old male visitor from Saudi Arabia (citizen and resident) who arrived in Vienna, Austria on 4 September 2016. The onset of symptoms (fever and cough) was on 6 September. The patient, who has an underlying condition, was hospitalized with severe pneumonia on 7 September, and he is currently in isolation in critical condition.

MERS-CoV was confirmed on 8 September using real-time PCR (upE and ORF1b and N) by the reference laboratory in Vienna.
The patient, who is a camel breeder, has confirmed contact with camel livestock in Saudi Arabia in the 14 days prior to symptom onset. The case had no contact with healthcare centers in Saudi Arabia in the 14 days prior to symptom onset.

Public health response

The National IHR Focal Point for Saudi Arabia has been informed by WHO. National IHR focal points for Austria and Saudi Arabia have initiated investigation and tracing of contacts in both countries. In addition, in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Agriculture has been informed and investigation of camels is ongoing. The camels have been sampled and are under quarantine.

WHO Risk Assessment

Based on the current available information regarding this single case reported in Austria, there is a risk for serious public health impact given that MERS has caused severe human infections resulting in high case fatality rate and has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans especially in health care settings with the potential to lead to large scale outbreaks. This risk assessment will be revised as additional information becomes available.

(Continue . . . )

This case follows by only about 6 weeks the importation of a MERS case to Thailand, their 3rd in less than a year.

A reminder that on any given day, at any given hospital, a MERS, Ebola, or Avian flu patient can walk through the door.  With modern transportation, long distances and vast oceans are no longer a barrier to the spread of infectious diseases.

How they are initially handled can mean the difference between Thailand's outcome and what we saw happen in South Korea last year. 

For information on how hospitals can prepare, you may wish to revisit  TFAH Issue Brief: Preparing The United States For MERS-CoV & Other Emerging Infections.

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