19 January 2023, 17:00 hours; Rome
Situation: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV): zoonotic virus with pandemic potential.
Countries with known human cases1: Jordan, Saudi Arabia (KSA), Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States of America (USA), Egypt, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Iran, Algeria, Turkey, Austria, Greece, Republic of Korea, China, Thailand, the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Findings in humans: 2,603 cases confirmed with 935 fatalities (since September 2012)2 . Three new human cases: two (n=2) in Saudi Arabia and one (n=1) in Oman, with no fatalities reported since the last Update (21 December 2022). Please see ‘Situation in humans’ for further details.
Countries with published animal findings (serology and/or virology): Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (KSA), Senegal, Somalia, Spain (Canary Islands), Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates.
1 Countries in order of first reported occurrence.
2 For detailed information on human cases, please refer to WHO at http://www.who.int/emergencies/mers-cov/en/.
Map 1. MERS-CoV livestock field surveys by country*
*Note: Positive findings in Spain refer to samples taken in the Canary Islands. Livestock surveillance in Chile, not pictured, resulted negative.
Map 2. Global distribution of human cases of MERS-CoV
Note: Stars highlight countries reporting human cases since 2020 (Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates).
|Country||Cumulative number of confirmed |
MERS-CoV human cases
|First observation||Last Observation|
United Arab Emirates
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Bahrain (the Kingdom of)
Republic of Korea
United States of America
Figure 1. Human epidemiological timeline (with cases reporting animal exposure in blue), by month of disease onset (since January 2015)
Figure 2. Breakdown of human MERS-CoV cases by potential source of exposure (in percent).
Note: While infection control improves in healthcare settings and history of animal contact is recorded more consistently in case investigations, the overall number of cases has decreased (see Figure 1: Human Epidemiological Timeline). The apparent increase in proportion of primary cases with animal exposure therefore should be interpreted in the overall context of a reduced human case count. Data not displayed prior to July 2015 as a result of inconsistent collection of human epidemiological data before this date.
Zhou, Z., Ali, A., Walelign, E., Demissié, G. F., Masry, I. E., Abayneh, T., Getachew, B., Krishnan, P., Ng, D. Y. M., Gardner, E., Makonnen, Y., Miguel, E., Chevalier, V., Chu, D. K., So, R. T. Y., Von Dobschuetz, S., Mamo, G., Poon, L. L. M., & Peiris, M. (2023). Genetic diversity and molecular epidemiology of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in dromedaries in Ethiopia, 2017 to 2020. Emerging microbes & infections, 2164218. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2022.2164218. This study investigated the genetic diversity and molecular epidemiology of MERS-CoV in dromedary camels in Ethiopia from samples collected from 2017-2020. Twenty-five whole genome sequences were obtained. Phylogenetically, these Ethiopian camel-originated MERS-CoV belonged to clade C2, clustering with other East African camel strains. In contrast to clade A and B viruses from the Arabian Peninsula, clade C camel-originated MERS-CoV from Ethiopia had various nucleotide insertions and deletions in non-structural gene nsp3, accessory genes ORF3 and ORF5 and structural gene N. This study demonstrates the genetic instability of MERS-CoV in dromedaries in East Africa.
Information provided herein is current as of the date of issue. Information added or changed since the last MERS-CoV situation update appears in orange. Human cases are depicted in the geographic location of their report. For some cases, exposure may have occurred in one geographic location but reported in another. For cases with unknown onset date, reporting date was used instead. FAO compiles information drawn from multiple national (Ministries of Agriculture or Livestock, Ministries of Health; Centers for Disease Prevention and Control [CDC]) and international sources (World Health Organization [WHO], World Organisation for Animal Health [WOAH]) as well as peer-reviewed scientific articles. FAO makes every effort to ensure, but does not guarantee, accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information. The designation employed and the presentation of material on the map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers.
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