In a World Health Organization (WHO) outbreak update today, the UN health agency reports receiving information on 18 cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 4 deaths between 3 and 19 November 2014.

Saudi Arabia
Middle East Image/W123 via Wikimedia commons

The breakdown on the cases/fatalities are as follows: Alkharj City (3/3), Riyadh City (9/0), Skaka City (2/1), Taif City (3/0) and Jeddah (1/0).

Contact tracing of household contacts and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.

The National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also notified WHO of the death of 3 previously reported MERS-CoV cases.

Globally, the WHO has been notified of 927 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 338 related deaths.

The WHO offers the following advice to prevent infection with MERS-CoV: People with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS‐CoV infection.

Therefore, these people should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, should be adhered to.

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.