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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Identify-Isolate-Inform: A Modified Tool for Initial Detection and Management of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Patients in the Emergency Department


Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a novel infectious disease caused by a coronavirus (MERS-CoV) first reported in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. MERS later spread to other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, followed by an outbreak in South Korea in 2015. At least 26 countries have reported MERS cases, and these numbers may increase over time. Due to international travel opportunities, all countries are at risk of imported cases of MERS, even if outbreaks do not spread globally. Therefore, it is essential for emergency department (ED) personnel to be able to rapidly assess MERS risk and take immediate actions if indicated. The Identify-Isolate-Inform (3I) tool, originally conceived for initial detection and management of Ebola virus disease patients in the ED and later adjusted for measles, can be adapted for real-time use for any emerging infectious disease. This paper reports a modification of the 3I tool for use in initial detection and management of patients under investigation for MERS. Following an assessment of epidemiologic risk factors, including travel to countries with current MERS transmission and contact with patients with confirmed MERS within 14 days, patients are risk stratified by type of exposure coupled with symptoms of fever and respiratory illness. If criteria are met, patients must be immediately placed into airborne infection isolation (or a private room until this type of isolation is available) and the emergency practitioner must alert the hospital infection prevention and control team and the local public health department. The 3I tool will facilitate rapid categorization and triggering of appropriate time-sensitive actions for patients presenting to the ED at risk for MERS.

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