Rapid Risk Assessment: Severe respiratory disease associated with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), 15th update, 9 March 2015

Risk assessment
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Severe respiratory diseases associated with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Fifteenth update – 8 March 2015. Stockholm: ECDC; 2015.

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​Since April 2012 and as of 7 March 2015, 1 082 cases (including 439 deaths) of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been reported by local health authorities worldwide. The latest importation of a case to Germany from the United Arab Emirates demonstrates the continued risk of case importation to Europe after exposure in the Middle East, especially in the context of the seasonal upsurge of cases currently observed in Saudi Arabia. However, the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission in Europe remains very low.

Executive summary

he latest instance of a person returning from the Middle East infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to Germany illustrates the continued risk of importation to Europe. However, ECDC’s latest rapid risk assessment on the topic concludes the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission in Europe remains very low.

The importation of a MERS-CoV to the EU is not unexpected and does not indicate a significant change in the epidemiology of the disease. Because of the continued risk of case importation to Europe after exposure in the Middle East, international surveillance for MERS-CoV cases remains essential.

Background

On 7 March 2015, Germany reported a confirmed case of MERS-CoV through the EU Early Warning and Response System (EWRS). Confirmatory testing by PCR was performed at the Department of Virology at Bonn University Hospital.

The patient is a 65-year-old German male who came back from a holiday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 8 February 2015. The patient is hospitalised and is in a severe but stable condition. Contact tracing of contacts is ongoing, led by the local public health authorities. Until now, no further cases have been notified and investigations into how he was exposed are ongoing.

Germany has previously reported two imported cases of MERS-CoV, one from Qatar in 2012, and one from the United Arab Emirates in 2013.

Since April 2012 and as of 7 March 2015, 1 082 cases (including 439 deaths) of MERS-CoV have been reported by health authorities worldwide.