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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

WHO: One fourth of MERS cases have been infected health care workers

Breaks in infection control protocols while treating MERS patients has led to infected health care workers and given hospitals an “amplifying” effect as the epidemic continues in Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organization reports.

A team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) completed a 5-day mission to Saudi Arabia to the recent increase in MERS infections in Jeddah. Among their findings was that one quarter of all MERS cases have been health care workers.

“The upsurge in cases can be explained by an increase, possibly seasonal, in the number of primary cases amplified by several outbreaks in hospitals due to breaches in WHO’s recomm­­­ended infection prevention and control measures,” the team reported. “There is a clear need to improve health care workers’ knowledge and attitudes about the disease and systematically apply WHO’s recommended infection prevention and control measures in health care facilities.”

As of May 3, 2014, 489 cases, including 126 deaths, were reported to WHO globally. Of those 406 cases and 101 deaths were in Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of the outbreak since the novel coronavirus was first recognized 2012. The numbers can change from one day to the next according to when Member States inform WHO.

For more on this story see the June 2014 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.