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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV Infection in United Arab Emirates (Update)

26 May 2014

The health authorities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have reported 3 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Abu Dhabi.

The 3 cases are male; the first aged 71 years has additional medical conditions and is in a stable condition in hospital, the second aged 36 years also has additional medical conditions but has been released from hospital, the third aged 26 years had no symptoms but was identified on routine screening in his workplace, he has been released from hospital.

As of 6 May 2014, 635 cases of MERS-CoV have been reported globally, including 193 deaths.

Advice for Travellers

The current Rapid Risk Assessment by ECDC is unchanged in that, the risk of MERS-CoV infection for Europeans visiting or residing in the region is low, and secondary transmission in the EU from imported cases is low.

Although the source of the virus and the mechanism of transmission is unknown, it would be sensible to try to reduce the general risk of infection while travelling by:

  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Frequent handwashing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  • Avoiding contact with camels, consuming raw camel milk or camel products, eating undercooked camel meat.
  • Adhering to food safety and hygiene rules such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruits and vegetables unless they have been peeled, or unsafe water.
  • People at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals should be adhered to.
  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands) and to delay travel until they are no longer symptomatic.

Travellers to the Middle East who develop symptoms either during travel or after their return are encouraged to seek medical attention and to share their history of travel.