By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor
In recent weeks, there have been a number of news stories following the first U.S. cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and the first transmission of the virus that occurred on U.S. soil. This novel coronavirus (the common cold is a coronavirus; so is SARS) can cause respiratory failure and death. So far, the number of identified cases are relatively few, though the numbers are growing. Disease surveillance has been aggressive since the first case was identified in Saudi Arabia.
Back in January, before the U.S. had seen its first cases, infection prevention specialist Betsy Todd provided a clear, engaging overview of MERS in our Emerging Infections column. “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS CoV)” lucidly and succinctly describes early MERS cases, the clinical findings as we currently understand them, the speedy development of worldwide surveillance efforts and the rapid development of an assay, the possible sources and transmission of the virus, and what we know about prevention. The article will be free until June 30.
Do most of us have anything to worry about? It’s still hard to tell. But nurses should have a clear understanding of such emerging infections, even if only (one hopes!) to answer questions from patients who have been watching a lot of news, or because the developing story puts disease control processes on display in real time. Our article is an excellent place to start.