JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

MERS coronavirus outbreak: Implications for emerging viral infections

Awad Al-Omari, Ali A Rabaan, Samer Salih, Jaffar A Al-Tawfiq, Ziad A Memish
Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease 2019, 93 (3): 265-285
30413355
In September 2012, a novel coronavirus was isolated from a patient who died in Saudi Arabia after presenting with acute respiratory distress and acute kidney injury. Analysis revealed the disease to be due to a novel virus which was named Middle East Respiratory Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). There have been several MERS-CoV hospital outbreaks in KSA, continuing to the present day, and the disease has a mortality rate in excess of 35%. Since 2012, the World Health Organization has been informed of 2220 laboratory-confirmed cases resulting in at least 790 deaths. Cases have since arisen in 27 countries, including an outbreak in the Republic of Korea in 2015 in which 36 people died, but more than 80% of cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia.. Human-to-human transmission of MERS-CoV, particularly in healthcare settings, initially caused a 'media panic', however human-to-human transmission appears to require close contact and thus far the virus has not achieved epidemic potential. Zoonotic transmission is of significant importance and evidence is growing implicating the dromedary camel as the major animal host in spread of disease to humans. MERS-CoV is now included on the WHO list of priority blueprint diseases for which there which is an urgent need for accelerated research and development as they have the potential to cause a public health emergency while there is an absence of efficacious drugs and/or vaccines. In this review we highlight epidemiological, clinical, and infection control aspects of MERS-CoV as informed by the Saudi experience. Attention is given to recommended treatments and progress towards vaccine development.

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