June 24, 2013
Six MERS-Coronavirus Cases Confirmed Over The Weekend
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Two releases by the World Health Organization (WHO) detail six new confirmed cases of MERS-Coronavirus over the weekend. The laboratory-confirmed cases were reported to the WHO by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health first reported four new cases of MERS-CoV on Saturday, June 22. The first case was a 43-year-old female from the Eastern Region who has since recovered. The other three cases are all female health workers aged 29, 39 and 45 from Taif governorate who had cared for two previously confirmed cases. MERS-CoV was detected in the health workers as part of the outbreak investigation and contact tracing initiative. Two of the three cases were asymptomatic and all three tested as weakly positive.
On Sunday, June 23, the Ministry of Health reported two additional cases of MERS-CoV to the WHO, along with one death from a previously confirmed case. The first case was in a 41-year-old female from Riyadh who had contact with another confirmed case. The second was a 32-year-old male from the Eastern Region who had underlying medical conditions; he is listed in critical condition.
The death of a previously confirmed case from the Eastern Region occurred in a person admitted to the hospital on April 26, 2013.
The WHO has been informed of a total of 70 lab-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection, including 39 deaths since September, 2012.
While the bulk of cases have occurred in the Middle East, cases have also been confirmed in France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Tunisia, Africa. Cases outside the Middle East were reported in patients transferred for medical reasons or in persons who recently traveled to the Middle East or had been in close contact with an infected person who contracted the disease.
Based on the current situation, the WHO encourages all Member States to continue surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARIs) and to carefully review any and all unusual patterns. It also continues to advise all healthcare professionals to maintain vigilance and urges all recent travelers to the Middle East who develop SARI to be tested for MERS-CoV.
The WHO also asks that all Member States promptly assess and notify the international health group of any new case of infection with MERS-CoV, along with information about potential exposure that may have resulted in infection, along with a description of the clinical course.
Based on the current available information, the WHO does not advise against trade and travel restrictions to the Middle East, but said it will continue to closely monitor the situation.
MERS-CoV is similar to the SARS virus that first emerged in Asia in 2003, and is also similar to the coronavirus found in bats. While experts still do not know the exact origin of this new virus, theorists suggest it may have started in bats, camels or goats.