The number of cases infected with the MERS-corona virus has recently increased in Saudi-Arabia and some neighboring countries in the Middle East. Some cases have also been reported closer to home, but these are import cases after a recent stay in the Middle East. In this article we give an overview of the available information on this virus.
The MERS-corona virus (or MERS) is a virus that causes human respiratory infections. Infections have occured in Saudi-Arabia and some other countries in the Middle East since 2012. These infections are often severe. The virus is related to the famous SARS-virus that caused an epidemic of serious respiratory infections in Asia and Canada in 2003.
We don’t have a lot of information about this new virus yet. Camels and dromedaries supposedly play an important role in the contagion. The infection can also be transmitted from human to human, but that happens less often. During the last weeks more cases of this infection have been reported in Saudi-Arabia.
Most cases so far have been reported in Saudi-Arabia, followed by the United Arabic Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait and Egypt. Some cases have also been seen outside the Middle East, but there was always a link to a recent stay in the Middle East. Some import cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Greece and very recently also in the Netherlands. Such cases have also been reported in Northern Africa, South-East Asia and the United Stated.
No negative travelling advice has been given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Saudi-Arabia or other countries in the Middle East, but travelers leaving for the Arabic peninsula or the Middle East are advised to take the following precautions in order to limit the risk of infection:
On 14 May 2014 the World Health Organization also informed its concern on the spreading of the virus, but it does not consider this as an emergency situation.
Anyone having fever, coughing or showing signs of dyspnea during a stay in the Middle East, is advised to do the following:
Travelers having symptoms like fever, cough or respiratory problems up to two weeks after their return from the Arabic peninsula or the Middle East are advised to take the following precautions:
Persons having close contact with travelers showing the above mentioned symptoms and who develop serious respiratory problems themselves, should immediately consult a doctor.