The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published an update to its rapid risk assessment on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This update was triggered by the detection of a case imported into the EU/EEA from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) (see current note 52/3403). This update reassesses the risk for EU/ EEA residents.
The majority of the MERS-CoV infections continue to be reported from the Middle East and more specifically from the KSA. Sporadic MERS-CoV infections in travellers returning to EU/EEA countries can be expected, given the regular occurrence of MERSCoV infections in the Middle East and the substantial number of people travelling between the region and EU countries.
European public health authorities should remain vigilant, continue surveillance of acute respiratory infections and maintain preparedness for travel-related MERS cases entering the EU/EEA. Information about the risk of MERS should be shared with clinicians to maintain increased awareness for early identification, isolation and diagnosis of possible MERS. Adherence to strict infection control protocols throughout contact with possible cases is critical for preventing further spread of MERS-CoV in healthcare settings. Previously issued advice for travellers, including pilgrims, and healthcare workers remains valid. EU residents travelling to Middle Eastern countries need to be made aware that MERS-CoV is circulating in these areas. Close contact with dromedary camels, consumption of raw/undercooked camel products, such as milk, and transmission in hospital settings are the main sources of infection.
Countries should advise travellers returning from all areas affected by MERS-CoV to seek medical attention if they develop a respiratory illness with fever and cough during the two weeks following their return, and to disclose their recent travel history to their healthcare provider.
The risk of widespread transmission of MERS-CoV in the community after sporadic importation into the EU/EEA remains very low. The risk of transmission of MERS-CoV in the healthcare setting after sporadic importation into the EU/EEA remains low, provided appropriate infection control measures are implemented rapidly when seeing suspected cases.
Source: ECDC, 29 August 2018
Information and guidance on MERS is available from our website.