CDC Issues Guidance for the Public and Health Care Providers on MERS-CoV

On Jan. 30, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update on the epidemiology of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and guidance for the public, clinicians, and public health authorities.

Some highlights from the alert include that:

  • MERS-CoV was first identified and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in September 2012. As of Jan. 23, 2015, there have been 956 laboratory-confirmed cases, including at least 351 deaths.
  • The majority of the confirmed cases were reported to have occurred between March-May 2014, though the WHO continues to receive reports of MERS, mostly from Saudi Arabia.
  • All reported cases have been directly or indirectly linked to travel or residence to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iran.
  • From Aug.1, 2014, through Jan. 23, 2015, the WHO confirmed 102 cases, 97 of which occurred in people with residence in Saudi Arabia, including three travel-associated cases reported by Austria, Turkey, and Jordan; of the remaining cases, two were in people from Qatar and three in people from Oman.
  • In the U.S., two patients tested positive in May 2014, both of whom had a history of fever and one or more respiratory symptoms after recent travel from Saudi Arabia.
  • No further cases have been reported in the U.S., despite nationwide surveillance and the testing of 514 patients from 45 states to date.
  • U.S. travelers to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula should protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including MERS, by washing their hands regularly and avoiding contact with people who are sick. If travelers to the region have an onset of fever and symptoms of respiratory illness during their trip or within 14 days of returning to the U.S., they should seek medical care, calling their health care provider ahead of time to inform them of their recent travel so that appropriate isolation measures can be taken.
  • Health care providers and health departments nationwide should continue to consider a diagnosis of MERS-CoV in people who develop fever or respiratory symptoms within 14 days after traveling from counties in or near the Arabian Peninsula, and be prepared to detect and manage cases of MERS-CoV.

Guidance on the evaluation of patients for MERS-CoV infection, infection control, home care and isolation, and clinical specimen collection and testing is available on the CDC MERS website. The WHO also has posted guidance for clinical management of MERS patients on its website.

The CDC said that it is continuing to work with the WHO and other partners to closely monitor MERS-CoV infections globally and to better understand the risks to public health.