PHE Urges Health Professionals to Be on Alert for Cases of MERS

Dawn O'Shea

July 22, 2020

Public Health England has cautioned health professionals to remain vigilant for clinical presentations of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

As of 2 July 2020, 2562 cases of MERS-CoV have been reported by WHO, with at least 881 related deaths. The majority of cases have been reported from the Arabian Peninsula, with one large outbreak outside this region involving 186 cases in the Republic of Korea in 2015. Cases have been exported to other countries outside of the Middle East, including the UK.

On 22 August 2018, PHE reported a laboratory-confirmed case of MERS-CoV infection in a resident of the Middle East who had travelled from Saudi Arabia. This was the third imported MERS-CoV case reported by the UK. The last such case, which was reported in 2013, was associated with two infections in close contact.

PHE says: “The previous sporadic imported cases to the UK highlight the continued risk of imported cases to the UK, reflecting the current epidemiology of MERS-CoV infection in the Middle East. It is therefore imperative that health professionals remain vigilant for clinical presentations compatible with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Early identification and rapid implementation of appropriate infection control measures for possible cases, and reporting of these to local health protection teams is crucial.”

Although the risk of MERS-CoV is low in individuals who meet the case definition for a possible case in the UK following travel to or from the Middle East, testing for MERS-CoV is warranted together with rapid implementation of appropriate infection control measures while awaiting results of testing, PHE has advised.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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