As of today, The South Korean Department of Health and Human Services has reported 64 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and five fatalities since May 20, when the government confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus in a traveler to the Middle East.
To date, all the cases are linked to healthcare facilities with a confirmed MERS case.
This has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel notice on Friday for people going to South Korea.
Federal health officials say all travelers can take these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of germs and protect against colds, flu, and other illnesses, including MERS:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; germs spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Be sure you are up-to-date with all of your shots and, if possible, see your healthcare provider at least 4-6 weeks prior to travel to get any additional shots.
- If you are sick:
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid contact with other people to keep from infecting them.
- Contact your doctor if you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after being in a healthcare facility in the Republic of Korea. Tell your doctor about your recent travel and presence in a healthcare facility before you go in for an appointment.
The clinical spectrum of MERS-CoV infection ranges from no symptoms (asymptomatic) or mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease and death. A typical presentation of MERS-CoV disease is fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is a common finding, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported. Severe illness can cause respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation and support in an intensive care unit. Worldwide, approximately 36% of reported patients with MERS-CoV have died.
No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. Treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.