From 2012 to the end of January 2019, 1925 cases of MERS-CoV infection were recorded in Saudi Arabia, including 735 deaths.
From 1 to 31 January 2019 alone, the International Health Regulations (IHR) National Focal Point in Saudi Arabia reported 16 cases of MERS-CoV infection, including 3 deaths.
ADVICE FOR TRAVELLERS
Travellers to MERS-CoV endemic areas are advised to pay attention to general hygiene measures.
Anyone visiting farms, markets, barns or other places where animals are present, especially camels and dromedaries, is advised to pay close attention to hand washing and to avoid contact with visually ill animals.
Consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, such as milk and meat, carries a high risk of infection with a variety of organisms that could cause disease in humans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends useful actions to prevent respiratory diseases:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover the nose and mouth with a tissue and then discard it.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact or sharing glasses or cutlery with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
MERS-Cov is an infectious disease responsible for a severe acute respiratory syndrome.
MERS-CoV is a zoonotic coronavirus, i.e. it is transmitted between animals and people: it has been identified in dromedaries in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Interhuman transmission is caused by close contact, through secretions or aerosols from infected persons.
The incubation period is approximately 5 days (2-14 days).
The clinical spectrum of infection varies from mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory illness and death. A typical symptomatic presentation is fever, cough and shortness of breath;
The onset of pneumonia is also common. The virus tends to be more aggressive in the elderly, people with a weakened immune system and those with chronic diseases.
The complication rate is very high and the mortality rate is 35%, although this may turn out to be an underestimate as MERS infection is often not diagnosed due to low levels of knowledge about the disease.
IS THERE A VACCINE AVAILABLE?
No. To date, there is no vaccine or specific treatment, although they are being studied.