Wednesday, November 6, 2013

MERS Virus Reported in Spain

Spain reports first MERS case
(from Google Maps)
The Spanish Ministry of Health is reporting the first verified case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in that country.

The victim is a female who recently returned from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. She is in stable condition in a hospital in Madrid, according to this article from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CIDRAP).

The woman began to exhibit symptoms before she left Saudi Arabia and was admitted to a hospital after returning to Spain. Verification of the MERS virus was performed by the Spanish National Microbiology Center.

Dr. Anthony Mounts of the World Health Organization stated that contacts of the woman, including possible fellow passengers on air flights, would be tracked for the illness.

Earlier this week the WHO spokesmen had expressed confidence that Hajj had not acted as a 'transmission event' which might have spread the virus to global pandemic levels. He now admits the threat still exists, remarking that, "I think it does give us pause,..I think it means that we really do have to wait a little while longer before we're sure we're out of danger."

Spain is the tenth country to have confirmed the virus and makes 151 cases so far, including 64 deaths. It is the fifth European country to report MERS infections, the others occurring in UK, Germany, France and Italy. Other outbreaks have occurred in Tunisia and on the Arabian Peninsula in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Jordan.

This is the second report today of the MERS virus appearing among recent travelers to Saudi Arabia and occurring in countries where the virus had not been previously reported.

Earlier, local media reported 'at least five' unconfirmed cases of MERS in the country of Azerbaijan. All are recent visitors to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj.  (See 'Azerbaijan Reports Possible MERS Outbreak Among Returning Hajj Pilgrims', Nov. 6, 2013)

So far, The World Health Organization has confirmed 150 cases of MERS in eight countries with 64 fatalities. These totals do not reflect today's disturbing news from Azerbaijan or Spain.

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