MERS-CoV spreading in Saudi Arabia

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According to recent disease outbreak news from the World Health Organization, the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) National Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported four additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection from 16 through 30 October 2018, including one death.

WHO said that infection with MERS-CoV can cause severe disease, resulting in high mortality. The disease infects humans from direct or indirect contact with dromedary camels and has also demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. WHO said that it expects that additional cases of disease infection will be reported from the Middle East, and that cases will continue to be exported to other countries by individuals who might acquire the infection after exposure to animals, animal products, or humans.

When it comes to advice, WHO said that it encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns. It stated that infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS-CoV in healthcare facilities. As it is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because the early symptoms are non-specific, WHO said that healthcare workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis.

Infection seems to more severely affect people with diabetes, renal failure and chronic lung disease, and people who are immunocompromised. These people should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. All travellers should follow hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, and observe food hygiene practices.