GPs urged to be vigilant of respiratory syndrome in returning travellers

GPs must 'remain vigilant' when dealing with patients with sudden fever, public health experts have warned in guidance around the coronavirus outbreak.

Sneeze: GPs warned over MERS virus
Sneeze: GPs warned over MERS virus

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies issued an alert to healthcare leaders last week, warning GPs to be cautious with patients with sudden unexplained fevers, and take their travel history.

The warning comes as the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in South Korea worsens.

‘Clinicians are reminded that MERS-CoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, especially in people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons,’ said official guidance from Public Health England (PHE).

Low UK risk

The virus originated in the Middle East, and PHE has warned those undertaking the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in September to avoid contact with camels and practice good hygiene.

There have been no new cases in the UK since 2013, and the risk to UK tourists visiting South Korea and Middle Eastern countries is very low, PHE has said.

‘The risk of contracting infection in the UK remains very low, and while it’s possible we will see another imported case in the future, we would be unlikely to see extended onwards transmission because of our robust monitoring and treatment guidelines,’ said PHE’s Dr Richard Pebody.

For more information about MERS, visit

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