Middle East respiratory syndrome is caused by a novel coronavirus which was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Nearly all reported cases have had recent travel to, or residence in, the Middle East (specifically the countries of: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen), or contact with travelers returning from these areas. The Republic of Korea (RoK) reported its first imported case in May 2015 which has led to a cluster of 179 cases transmitted within health care facilities (as of 25 June 2015). There has been no community transmission of MERS-CoV infection recorded in the RoK, despite extensive contact tracing and follow-up. Imported cases have also been reported in Europe, North America and Asia but no cases have been reported in Australia to date. Person-to-person spread of MERS-CoV occurs mostly in health care settings and to a lesser extent within households.
- Take a travel history from patients presenting with an acute respiratory illness, and consider the possibility of MERS-CoV infection in patients who have travelled to the Middle East or other countries where an outbreak of MERS-CoV infection is currently occurring.
- Notify urgently any patient suspected to have MERS-CoV infection to CDCB (1300 232 272 24 hours/7 days).
Symptoms of MERS-CoV infection may include fever, cough, dyspnoea, myalgia, and less commonly diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. MERS-CoV infection is clinically indistinguishable from other respiratory infections. Severe disease and death are more common in persons with underlying disease. Some cases are asymptomatic or have mild influenza-like illness. There is no vaccine and no specific treatment.
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