As of 2 July 2014, 826 laboratory-confirmed cases had been reported by the WHO world-wide since the first cases were reported in September 2012. Two hundred and eighty-seven are known to have died, and the case fatality rate is 35% .
All cases have a history of residence in or travel to the Middle East, or contact with travelers returning from these areas. More than 85% of cases acquired the infection in Saudi Arabia, or are related to contact with travelers returning from these areas. The infection has occurred in the community (sporadic cases with unknown exposure), in families (contact with infected family members) and in health care facilities (patients and healthcare workers) from whence the majority of cases have been reported.
Advice to travelers
Australians travelling to the Middle East and who are at increased risk of severe disease should avoid contact with camels and their secretions, and avoid drinking raw camel milk. All travelers should practice good hand and food hygiene, particularly where camels are present.
The WHO advises that if travelers develop an acute respiratory illness severe enough to interfere with usual daily activities while travelling or during the two weeks after their return, they should:
- seek medical attention, informing the health professional of their recent travel;
- wash their hands regularly and practice respiratory hygiene (cough etiquette etc); and
- minimise their contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Australians travelling to the Middle East to work in healthcare settings should note the advice to healthcare workers on infection control available from the WHO, the CDC and the destination country.
For further information MERS Coronavirus Situation Update 3 July 2014