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Published On: Sun, Jun 30th, 2013

WHO: New specimen recommendations and longer period of observation in updated MERS-CoV guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released revised surveillance recommendations Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which highlight two key areas: Stronger recommendations for lower respiratory specimens and a longer period of observation for contacts of cases.

 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Image/CDC

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
Image/CDC

The WHO states that more evidence suggests that nasopharyngeal swabs aren’t as sensitive as lower respiratory specimens for detecting infections.

The UN health agency says concerning specimens for testing, “It is strongly advised that lower respiratory specimens such as sputum, endotracheal aspirate, or bronchoalveolar lavage should be used when possible until more information is available.

“If patients do not have signs or symptoms of lower respiratory tract infection and lower tract specimens are not possible or clinically indicated, both nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens should be collected.

“If initial testing of a nasopharyngeal swab is negative in a patient who is strongly suspected to have MERS-CoV infection,
patients should be retested using a lower respiratory specimen or a repeat nasopharyngeal specimen with additional oropharyngeal specimen if lower respiratory specimens are not possible.”

In addition, the WHO says the incubation period for MERS-CoV may be as long as 14 days.

“The incubation period for cases in whom exposure is known or strongly suspected is generally less than one week. However, in at least one case,the known exposure occurred 9 to 12 days prior to onset of illness. Further evidence in cases exposed over a range of time suggest that at least in a minority of cases, incubation period may exceed one week but is less than two weeks.”

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 77 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 40 deaths.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today.

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  1. [...] (SARI) should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations and specimens from patients’ lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis where [...]

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