Update on cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the WHO European Region

Since September 2012, 14 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection, including 7 related deaths, have been reported by 8 countries in the WHO European Region: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Most of these cases (11 out of 14) were imported. The last case was reported in Turkey in October 2014.

WHO’s emergency committee on MERS-CoV met for the eighth time on 4 February 2015. Its members and advisors emphasized that, although the pattern of transmission appeared relatively unchanged, the overall situation and the possibility of international spread remained of concern. The committee was convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR).

The committee repeated its previous advice, and that affected countries should:

  • carefully monitor the evolution of MERS-CoV infection, reinforcing epidemiological surveillance in camels, as well as surveillance in human beings and addressing critical gaps in knowledge of human and animal transmission;
  • continue to strengthen efforts to implement basic measures for infection prevention and control, and increase education on these measures, especially among health care workers;
  • continue to enhance awareness of MERS-CoV through effective risk communication to the general public, health professionals and policy-makers;
  • strengthen intersectoral collaboration and joint activities between the animal- and human-health sectors; and
  • share with WHO all relevant information needed to assess and manage MERS-CoV, in a timely manner, as required by the IHR.

Public health advice

Food hygiene practices should be observed. People should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

WHO does not advise special screening for MERS-CoV at points of entry, or currently recommend imposing any travel or trade restrictions.