WHO Issues Updated MERS-CoV Risk Assessment

As many as 75 percent of the recent cases are secondary infections -- meaning individuals who became infected through contact with another person. Most of these are health care workers who became infected at work.

The World Health Organization has issued an updated risk assessment for members of the general public and for health care facilities about the outbreak of human infections of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), stating that 254 laboratory‐confirmed cases of it have been reported to WHO since April 2012, including 93 deaths. Cases have been reported in Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Britain, Tunisia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Cases have increased sharply since mid-March 2014, and as many as 75 percent of them are secondary infections -- meaning individuals who became infected through contact with another person. Most of these are health care workers who became infected at work.

One hypothesis is that the health care-acquired cases reflect inadequate infection prevention and control measures, according to the assessment. It says secondary cases have tended to be milder than primary cases, and many of them have been reported as asymptomatic. Only two possible tertiary cases have been reported.

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