MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia (Update)
17 Dec 2013
WHO has been informed of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.
The first case is a 51 year-old female from Saudi Arabia, living in Jawf province with onset of symptoms on 20 November 2013. She has underlying chronic disease and was transferred to Riyadh for treatment in an intensive care unit. She had no reported contact with animals.
The second case is a 26 year-old asymptomatic female who is a non-Saudi healthcare worker and had contact with a 37 year-old male confirmed case that was reported to WHO on 21 November 2013.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 165 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 71 deaths.
Advice for Travellers
The risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travellers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low.
Although the source of the virus and the mechanism of transmission is unknown, it would be prudent 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.
• 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.