Every year is a bad flu year. Sometimes, though, unusual respiratory infections emerge. Below you can find more information about emerging respiratory infections, including guidance for healthcare providers and local health departments.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
In 2012, a severe illness that can cause fever, lung infections (pneumonia), kidney damage, and death was first identified in persons living on the Arabian Peninsula. It is caused by a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses typically cause mild upper respiratory infection like a cold. A coronavirus, however, was responsible for SARS, an illness that killed 800 people in Hong Kong, Southeastern China, and the Toronto area back in 2003.
The new virus is called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus or “MERS.” By October 2013, 130 people had been diagnosed with this illness. Almost half of them died. All those ill either had been on the Arabian Peninsula within 14 days of becoming ill, or had been in direct, close contact with a person, ill with the disease, who had been there. So far, there have been no cases in the United States.
H7N9 Influenza A
In April 2013, an outbreak of human infections caused by an avian influenza A (H7N9) virus was first reported in China by the World Health Organization. As of October 23, 2013 the outbreak has resulted in 136 human infections and 45 deaths. The virus was subsequently detected in poultry. There was no evidence of sustained spread of the virus between people, and most people that were infected had known contact with poultry. There have been no cases detected in the United States. Influenza viruses are constantly changing and it’s possible that the influenza A (H7N9) virus could change enough to spread among people, potentially triggering a worldwide outbreak.
For more information about influenza, both novel and seasonal, see the Public Health Division Influenza page.
For Healthcare Providers