WHO: MERS epidemiological situation update - April 2019



According to the report published in April 2019 by WHO (World Health Organization), a total of 2428 laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), including 838 associated deaths (case–fatality rate: 34.5%), were reported globally since 2012. The majority of these cases were reported from Saudi Arabia (2037 cases, including 760 related deaths with a case–fatality rate of 37.3%).


During the month of April, a total of 29 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS were reported globally and all the cases, with 11 related deaths, were from Saudi Arabia. However, during the month of May, Saudi Arabia has not reported any new case related to the recent Wadi Aldwaser city outbreak, probably due to the immediate response measures taken by the country.


The age group 50–59 years continues to be at highest risk for acquiring infection of primary cases. The age group 30–39 years is most at risk for secondary cases. The number of deaths is higher in the age group 50–59 years for primary cases and 70–79 years for secondary cases.


Some interesting observations: cases had a history of diabetes and deaths occurred in individuals with diabetes; healthcare workers are more at risk than other staff-personnel-labours.


Infection with MERS-CoV can cause severe disease resulting in high morbidity and mortality. Humans are infected with MERS-CoV from direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels. MERS-CoV has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans, especially from close unprotected contact with infected patients. So far, the observed non-sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in health care settings. Infection prevention and control measures are vital to prevent the possible spread of the disease in hospitals and clinics and to protect health-care workers, visitors and other patients. No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available and treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.






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