Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

What is Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome?
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. MERS-CoV is a new coronavirus that has not been seen in humans before. So far this virus is rare but may cause serious illness, including death. To date, MERS-CoV has occurred mainly in residents of, or travelers to, certain Middle Eastern countries.
What are the symptoms of MERS-CoV infection?
The main symptoms of MERS-CoV are fever and cough as well as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The illness may range, from persons who test positive without any symptoms or symptoms of a common cold, to others with serious illness similar to severe pneumonia.
Who is at risk of contracting MERS-CoV?

MERS-CoV does not spread easily from person to person. In cases where MERS-CoV has spread between people, it was to those people who were in close contact with the sick person: family members, co-workers, healthcare workers, and patients. Almost all persons who become seriously ill have pre-existing medical conditions such as weakened immune systems, or chronic diseases. The virus has been identified in camels, but it is not known how it is transmitted to humans.

Is there treatment for MERS-CoV?
At this time there is no vaccine or specific treatment for MERS-CoV infection. Some individuals may require supportive treatment or hospitalization.
How can MERS-CoV be prevented?
To prevent the spread of MERS-CoV infection, it is recommended to:
  • Before travelling to the Middle East consult the travel links below for advice
  • If you become ill with a fever and/or shortness of breath after travelling to the Middle East, notify your healthcare professional of your symptoms and your recent travel history, and the travel history of those whom you have been in close contact
  • For protection from any respiratory illness such as colds, or flu adopt healthy habits.
What is Canada doing?
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is continually monitoring the disease and conducting surveillance for severe acute respiratory illnesses in Canada. The agency collaborates with provincial governments and international partners including the World Health Organization.

PHAC provides guidance to health care professionals to ensure that proper guidelines are in place to help prevent the virus from spreading in healthcare settings. The National Microbiology Lab tests can rapidly detect MERS-CoV and other severe respiratory illnesses.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term care has provided guidelines for health care providers in Ontario. The Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC) has updated its MERS-CoV document to include screening and patient management.

What is the role of Ottawa Public Health?
Ottawa Public Health investigates all reports of suspected MERS-CoV infection, works with health care providers in the Ottawa community to ensure timely follow up, and collaborates with Public Health Ontario to monitor the situation in province.
Travel Information
Information regarding travel notices or restrictions 

For further information visit the websites listed below:

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