Middle Eastern virus spreading due to lack of infection prevention

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs
iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

The outbreak of a deadly virus in the Middle East is raising alarms, particularly as many of the affected are healthcare workers. The spread of the virus has been blamed on lack of infection prevention measures.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, first appeared in late 2012 and the World Health Organization (WHO) reports there have now been over 200 cases since then, according to the Wall Street Journal. Of those, about 50 have been healthcare workers.

Of particular alarm is that the WHO reported 15 new cases and two deaths in a four-day period earlier this month. Overall, 92 deaths have been caused by the virus, which primarily kills through respiratory infections.

The majority of the cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia, though cases have been reported as far away as Europe. All cases appear to be linked to the Middle East, however.

The virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, leading many to believe healthcare workplaces may be in part to blame.

“As far as we know, MERS-CoV does not spread easily from person-to-person, so these clusters suggest a breakdown in infection prevention and control,” said Dr. Ian M. Mackay, an epidemiologist who tracked the outbreak.

A large public hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia shut down its emergency room briefly for disinfection measures related to the outbreak. However, one doctor told the Wall Street Journal she believes the entire hospital needs to be closed until the spread subsides.

Nurses, what do you think–do these facts sound like a breakdown in infection prevention and control to you?

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