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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
August 7, 2013

CDC Updates Guidance to Detect Novel Coronavirus Infections

JAMA. 2013;310(5):472. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.17046

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered additional guidance for clinicians who may suspect a patient is infected with a novel coronavirus that now is known as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The first human infections were reported in September 2012. As of June 7, the World Health Organization had received reports of 55 confirmed cases, including 31 deaths. All were linked directly or indirectly to 1 of 4 countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. No cases have yet been reported in the United States.

Individuals who develop severe acute lower respiratory illness within 14 days, rather than the previously advised 10 days, after traveling in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries should be evaluated for MERS-CoV according to current guidelines (http://tinyurl.com/peggkh4).

To increase the likelihood of detecting MERS-CoV, the CDC recommends collecting specimens from different sites—a nasopharyngeal swab as well as lower respiratory tract specimens such as sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchial wash, or tracheal aspirate.

Respiratory, blood, and stool specimens are being tested for MERS-CoV at the CDC with an assay approved on June 5 by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use (http://tinyurl.com/ou8t32g).

Section Editor: Rebecca Voelker, MSJ.