Human MERS-CoV was first reported in September 2012. Globally, all reported cases have been linked through travel to or residence in the Arabian Peninsula with the exception of cases associated with an outbreak involving multiple health care facilities in the Republic of Korea ending in July 2015. While the majority of MERS-CoV cases have been reported in the Arabian Peninsula, several cases have been reported outside of the region. Most cases are believed to have been acquired in the Middle East and then exported elsewhere, with no or rare instances of secondary transmission. Two cases of MERS-CoV were exported to the United States and identified in May 2014. One of these cases traveled from Saudi Arabia to Florida.
DOH conducts regular surveillance for MERS-CoV through the investigation of persons with known risk factors. PUIs have most often been identified by physicians reporting directly to local health departments and by DOH staff regularly querying ED and UCC chief complaint data in ESSENCE-FL. ESSENCE-FL currently captures data from 265 EDs and UCCs statewide and has been useful in identifying cases associated with reportable disease and emerging pathogens.
To retrospectively identify initial emergency department (ED) and urgent care center (UCC) visits for Florida’s Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus disease (MERS-CoV) patients under investigation (PUIs) in the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) syndromic surveillance system, the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE-FL), using information gathered from PUI case report forms and corresponding medical records for the purpose of improving syndromic surveillance for MERS-CoV. The results of this study may be further utilized in an effort to evaluate the current MERS-CoV surveillance query.