Report of Notifiable Disease or Related Death form
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Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was first recognised in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It was formerly called ‘novel coronavirus’. Initially it was confined to travellers in the Middle East, or contacts of travellers to the Middle East, however in 2015, there was a health care associated outbreak in the Republic of Korea resulting in 185 secondary and tertiary cases and 36 deaths. For up to date information on MERS-CoV see:
Severe disease and death is more common in older males and patients with underlying medical conditions. These underlying conditions have included diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, asthma and lung diseases, cardiovascular disease and people with weakened immune systems such as people with cancer or taking certain medications.
Less common symptoms include:
Severe disease and death is more common in older males and patients with underlying medical conditions. These underlying conditions have included diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, asthma and lung diseases, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
From 2 to 14 days, most commonly 5 days.
Uncertain, cases are likely not infectious during the incubation period.
MERS-CoV infection has spread from person to person particularly amongst family members and in health care settings, although the exact mode of transmission is unknown. Some cases have a strong history of exposure to camels or camel products.
In the health care setting, airborne and contact precautions in addition to standard precautions, are recommended.
For further details please see the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare.
Doctors should consider the possibility of MERS-CoV infection in patients with:
Request real time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) for MERS-CoV on respiratory specimens, preferably lower respiratory tract specimens. If initial tests are negative and MERS-CoV infection is still suspected, repeat testing is recommended. Use appropriate infection control precautions when taking specimens.
* Countries of the Middle East include: Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.
There is no specific treatment for MERS-CoV infection.
MERS-CoV infection is a notifiable condition under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011. Notify any suspected or confirmed cases to the South Australian Communicable Disease Control Branch on 1300 232 272 (24 hours /7 days).
There is no vaccine available against MERS-CoV infection.
Further information for health professionals on MERS-CoV infection is available from the following resources:
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (You’ve Got What?) is information for patients with causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and prevention of MERS-CoV.