MERS-CoV study examines health care workers

Greek researchers recently were able to identify gaps in infection control as a probable cause in all 11 known cases involving health care-associated transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The findings, by scientists from the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Athens, Greece, were  published in the December issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

The research team reviewed 252 papers on MERS-CoV, narrowing its focus to 10 studies covering 11 cases of confirmed or unconfirmed health care-associated transmission of the virus. “Patients with confirmed or suspected MERS-CoV infection should be cared for under contact and droplet precautions until testing results,” the authors stressed in the article. Nurses are at a major risk for acquiring MERS-CoV from infected patients as the deadly virus has been proven to survive for 48 hours on hospital surfaces, and can be transmitted through vomit and diarrhea.

To protect against the virus, the World Health Organization suggests health care workers wear high protection N95 respirator masks, eye goggles, gowns and gloves during procedures. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also encourage the use of respirator masks. Additional research is needed to confirm whether these gaps concern the use of personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, procedures, environmental cleaning or triage.

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