DHMH Secretary Directs Health Care Providers and Local Health Departments to Report Suspected Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Cases, Take Protective Measures:

Baltimore, MD (June 17, 2014) – On June 16, 2014, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein signed a directive and order for health care providers and local health departments to report suspected cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and follow infection prevention measures to prevent person-to-person spread.

“This directive and order formalizes what many of the health care providers were already doing,” says Secretary Sharfstein. “These protocols will help Maryland to continue to be prepared if we are faced with a case of MERS.”

Since MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, DHMH has been monitoring what’s happening in other parts of the world and the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DHMH has communicated with all Maryland hospital infection prevention programs to make them aware of what they should look for, what isolation and other infection prevention precautions to take for possible MERS infections, and how to get testing done if necessary. DHMH has worked with local health departments and health care providers to quickly investigate reports of possible MERS infections and has developed the capacity to do MERS testing in accordance with CDC guidance.

Currently, the risk of acquiring MERS in Maryland is low. There have been no confirmed cases in Maryland.

Anyone who develops fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula, should call ahead to a health care provider and mention the recent travel. While sick, people should stay home from work or school and delay future travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

For more information about MERS, visit http://preparedness.dhmh.maryland.gov/SitePages/MERS.aspx.

To see the full text of the Secretary’s order, visit http://preparedness.dhmh.maryland.gov/Documents/MERS%20Directive%20and%20Order%20061614.pdf.



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