On 8 September 2016 the National IHR Focal Point for Austria notified WHO of a laboratory confirmed case of Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. This is the second case of MERS-CoV in Austria. (The first MERS-CoV case in Austria was notified on 30 September 2014).

Image/Maureen Metcalfe; Azaibi Tamin
Image/Maureen Metcalfe; Azaibi Tamin

The patient is a 67 year old male visitor from Saudi Arabia (citizen and resident) who arrived in Vienna, Austria on 4 September 2016. The onset of symptoms (fever and cough) was on 6 September. The patient, who has an underlying condition, was hospitalized with severe pneumonia on 7 September, and he is currently in isolation in critical condition.

MERS-CoV was confirmed on 8 September using real-time PCR (upE and ORF1b and N) by the reference laboratory in Vienna.

The patient, who is a camel breeder, has confirmed contact with camel livestock in Saudi Arabia in the 14 days prior to symptom onset. The case had no contact with healthcare centers in Saudi Arabia in the 14 days prior to symptom onset.

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Agriculture has been informed and investigation of camels is ongoing. The camels have been sampled and are under quarantine.

Based on the current available information regarding this single case reported in Austria, there is a risk for serious public health impact given that MERS has caused severe human infections resulting in high case fatality rate and has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans especially in health care settings with the potential to lead to large scale outbreaks.