Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring writes: WHO highlights ongoing hospital MERS outbreak threat. Excerpt and then a comment
In a snapshot of MERS-CoV cases over the past year and an assessment of the global risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the epidemiology of the virus hasn't changed, but deep concerns persist about ongoing hospital-related outbreaks.
The report covers 189 lab-confirmed cases reported since the last report in July of 2017 through June of this year. The illnesses were in four countries: Saudi Arabia (182), Oman (3), the United Arab Emirates (3), and Malaysia (1).
Saudi Arabia over the past year reported six MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) illness clusters, three of which occurred in healthcare settings. Hospital outbreaks are worrisome, because MERS-CoV symptoms are often nonspecific and healthcare personnel who aren't familiar with the disease can miss initial cases. Also, it's still unclear how the virus spreads in hospitals.
Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, an epidemiologist who is the WHO's technical lead for MERS-CoV, said the report's findings are a reminder that the disease remains a global health threat. "This high threat respiratory pathogen has shown the potential to cause large outbreaks with substantial public health, security, and economic consequences," she told CIDRAP News.
See also Mike Coston's excellent post today on a rumoured outbreak in Al-Ahsa, which the authorities are denying.