Thursday, February 6, 2014

WHO Confirms Two More MERS Deaths

More than half of MERS infections originate in health care facilities
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an additional laboratory confirmed case of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the confirmation of a previously reported case in the UAE.

The most recent confirmed case in KSA involves a 60 year old man who became ill on January 19, was hospitalized on the 24th and passed away on January 28.

He had a history of chronic medical conditions and is not known to have contact with any other confirmed MERS patients.

On February 3, Saudi health officials announced they were treating a 67 year old man for MERS in Riyadh who suffered from chronic diseases in an intensive care unit. No other details were given.

The Saudi Ministry of Health website currently reports 144 confirmed cases of MERS, including 59 deaths in the Kingdom.

WHO has also confirmed that MERS caused the death of a 33 year old health care worker in Dubai, UAE. The man, who suffered from asthma and chronic kidney disease, had contact with an infected patient and developed symptoms on December 27.

He was admitted to the hospital the following day with bilateral pneumonia, acute renal failure and thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count which can cause uncontrolled bleeding). He died on January 16.

WHO now confirms 181 MERS infections and 79 deaths since September, 2012.  Hospitals which treat MERS patients are urged to "take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health-care workers and visitors." Exposures in health care facilities have accounted for more than half the confirmed cases so far, according to a WHO update issued last month.

WHO stressed the need to take appropriate caution with any acute respiratory illness, whether MERS is suspected or not. And in suspected cases, the patient should be treated as infected, even if initial screening tests prove negative.

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