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Risk assessment and laboratory investigation of respiratory illness in travellers returning to Singapore 2012–2015: experience from the MERS-CoV Surveillance Programme

  • M. K. WIN (a1), A. CHOW (a1), H. J. HO (a1), S. Y. TAY (a2) and Y. S. LEO (a3)...

Summary

Since the emergence of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Singapore has enhanced its national surveillance system to detect the potential importation of this novel pathogen. Using the guidelines from the Singapore Ministry of Health, a suspect case was defined as a person with clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of pneumonia or severe respiratory infection with breathlessness, and with an epidemiological link to countries where MERS-CoV cases had been reported within the preceding 14 days. This report describes a retrospective review of 851 suspected MERS-CoV cases assessed at the adult tertiary-care hospital in Singapore between September 2012 and December 2015. In total, 262 patients (31%) were hospitalized. All had MERS-CoV infection ruled out by RT–PCR or clinical assessment. Two hundred and thirty (88%) of the hospitalized patients were also investigated for influenza virus by RT–PCR. Of these, 62 (27%) tested positive for seasonal influenza. None of the patients with positive influenza results had been vaccinated in the year prior to hospital admission. Ninety-three (36%) out of the 262 hospitalized patients had clinical and/or radiological evidence of pneumonia. This study demonstrates the potential benefits of pre-travel vaccination against influenza and pneumococcal disease.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Dr M. K. Win, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore. (Email: mar_kyaw_win@ttsh.com.sg)

References

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1. Tambyah, PA, Tay, J. The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore 2013; 42: 376378.
2. Singapore Department of Statistics. (http://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/latest-data). Accessed 16 August 2016.
3. Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. (http://www.muis.gov.sg). Accessed 16 August 2016.
4. Singapore Tourism Board. (https://www.stb.gov.sg/statistics-and-market-insights). Accessed 16 August 2016.
5. World Health Organization. (http://www.who.int/csr/don/2014_04_17_mers/en). Accessed 16 August 2016.
6. Ang, LW, et al. Influenza-associated hospitalizations, Singapore, 2004–2008 and 2010–2012. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2014; 20: 16521660.

Keywords

Risk assessment and laboratory investigation of respiratory illness in travellers returning to Singapore 2012–2015: experience from the MERS-CoV Surveillance Programme

  • M. K. WIN (a1), A. CHOW (a1), H. J. HO (a1), S. Y. TAY (a2) and Y. S. LEO (a3)...

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