MERS-CoV & Pregnancy

Posted on Healthcare By Dr. George Michailidis MRCOG - Published on 2014-05-18


Recent reported cases MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) in UAE have brought a lot of anxiety to pregnant mothers.

What is MERS?
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a severe viral illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Patient present with fever cough shortness of breath

What causes MERS Middle East Respiratory Syndrome?
MERS-CoV is a coronavirus that responsible for MERS.
It can affect the lower respiratory, kidney, intestinal (bowel) and liver cells.
Bats seem to be the primary reservoir for MERS-CoV with camel the most probable intermediate for transmission to humans.

How is MERS-CoV transmitted?
Case clusters identified till now are suggestive of human to human transmission. Possible modes of transmission are droplets and direct contact transmission. Most cluster cases have been reported in family and health care settings and have been self-limited with appropriate vigilance and isolation.
WHO believes that MERS-CoV virus has a limited potential for a pandemic.
Clinical presentation and symptoms
Most patients present with severe pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome
Some have acute renal failure
Incubation period is about 7 days

MERS-CoV and Pregnancy
There have been less of a handful cases of confirmed MERS-CoV in pregnancy. So it is very difficult to draw conclusions on the effect of MERS to pregnancy. However traditionally pregnant mother are considered to be in the high risk group for MERS complications due to the changes in their immune response and the fetal effects of a severe respiratory syndrome.
A team from Jordan and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the findings in the Journal of Infectious Diseases about a mother who has miscarried after contacting MERS-CoV.
Her case was part of a family cluster with a close relative who died from MERS-CoV and her husband who had tested positive for MERS-CoV.

Treatment and vaccines
There is no specific anti-viral treatment for MERS-COV infection. Patients are receiving supportive treatment
There are no vaccines for MERS-CoV

Prevention of MERS in pregnancy
Simple hygiene rules are very effective in preventing infection;

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and if this is not available use a sanitizer
  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes mouth and nose as germs dread this way

If you’re ill report to your doctor early and inform before you reach the clinic so appropriate arrangements can be made to avoid cross infection with other patients (separate waiting area etc) 


About Author

Dr. George Michailidis MRCOG

Dr. George Michailidis is a Fetal & Maternal Medicine Consultant who specializes in prenatal diagnosis and counseling, applications of 3D & 4D ultrasound scans and the antenatal care of high risk pregnancies. Dr. Michailidis completed his basic training in Greece and graduated with honors from Thessaloniki University Medical School in 1992. He published a number of papers in international peer reviewed journals on 3D ultrasound in obstetrics and first trimester screening. In 2007, Dr. Michailidis was awarded the title of Fetal & Maternal Medicine Sub-Specialist / Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist by the RCOG, he then worked as a senior lecturer / Consultant in Fetal & Maternal Medicine at the University of Southampton, a tertiary referral centre in South England. Dr. Michailidis moved to Dubai and worked as the Head of the Fetal & Maternal Medicine Unit at the American Hospital Dubai in 2009. In 2013, he launched Genesis Perinatal Care Clinic. Genesis is a purpose built facility offering advanced prenatal screening and diagnostic services, as well as, caring for high risk pregnancies in Dubai. Dr. Michailidis is well known for his excellent interpersonal skills and counselling manners that helps parents at challenging times of the pregnancy. He is an expert in managing high risk pregnancies (twin pregnancies, mothers with diabetes), prenatal screening (first trimester /anomaly/3D & 4D ultrasound scanning), prenatal diagnosis (CVS, amniocentesis) and counseling.

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