CDC offers MERS preparedness tools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is giving hospitals and healthcare providers resources to prevent and control the deadly Middle East coronavirus, according to AHA News Now.

Despite no known cases in the United States, U.S. hospitals and front-line providers might have to treat patients infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and therefore need rapid MERS detection and correct infection prevention measures to keep the virus from spreading among patients, hospital workers and visitors, according to guidance issued Friday by the CDC.

To help hospitals and physicians, the CDC is recommending tools and checklists initially developed for the influenza pandemic and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) they can adapt for MERS.

The CDC's hospital resources come more than a month after U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared significant potential for a public health emergency involving MERS that could affect national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad.

MERS presents a serious risk to hospitals because it easily spreads in healthcare environments from patient to patient, from the transfer of sick patients to other hospitals and even from patients to healthy hospital staff.

No cure exists for MERS, but health officials in countries with known cases have isolated and treated patients, tightened infection control procedures, followed vigorous cleaning procedures with stronger disinfectants, and treated patients while wearing masks, gowns and gloves to stem the outbreak, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Meanwhile, as of last week, two more patients died from MERS for a total of 44 fatalities, according to the World Health Organization.

For more:
- check out the CDC's guidance and resources
- read the AHA News Now brief
- here's Sebelius' emergency declaration