Thursday, March 27, 2014

Two More MERS Cases Reported in UAE

UAE is second to KSA in MERS infections with 16 cases and 6 deaths.
Health officials in the United Arab Emirates are advising citizens 'not to panic' following two more cases of MERS in the country.

The UAE is second only to Saudi Arabia in numbers of confirmed MERS cases, with an unofficial count of 16 cases and six deaths.

The most recent infections were announced by the World Health Organization on March 25 and 26.

The first is a 49 year old man from Abu Dhabi who suffers from chronic medical conditions and had been hospitalized on February 27 and released on March 9. He was re-admitted to the hospital on March 16 and laboratory confirmation of MERS was performed on March 19. He is currently in critical condition.

The man reported no contact with animals or recent travel. However, he had contact with a previously confirmed MERS patient on March 1, during his initial hospitalization.

Health care facilities continue to be a major source of MERS infections, with a recent report showing approximately 50% of new cases are contracted there.

The second case announced by WHO is a 40 year old Omani man who also suffers from chronic medical conditions. He had been hospitalized in Muscat in mid-February and later traveled to the UAE, where he was admitted to the hospital in Abu Dhabi on March 17.

MERS was confirmed on March 21 and on the 24th, he passed away. The man reported no contact with animals or other confirmed MERS patients and had only traveled between Oman and the UAE.

According to The National, Dr. Asim Malik, Infectious Disease chief at Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi, reassured the public that the UAE is following WHO and local health guidelines. "There is no reason to panic." He said rigorous identification and reporting systems have resulted in higher case numbers in the country.

"The reason we have been catching the cases is because of the super vigilant system we have adopted in the UAE, as per WHO recommendations and Health Authority-Abu Dhabi guidelines. We have a very strong infection control system. We are fully prepared.”

Dr. Malik stated that the virus does not seem to be evolving or becoming easier to transmit and that the most severe cases have suffered from underlying medical problems. "We have seen no change in the pattern," he said.

"We have had cases in the country who have succumbed to the disease and we have cases that have survived and that is in keeping with the global picture of the disease, which is approximately 40 to 50 per cent mortality."

The World Health Organization has now confirmed 200 cases of MERS worldwide and 85 deaths.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Camels Shown to Pass MERS to Humans

A study by Emerging Infectious Diseases found evidence that humans can acquire the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus (MERS) directly from camels, which had been suspected but unproven.

A man who tended to infected camels in Saudi Arabia also became infected and was shown to have a nearly identical form of the virus as the ill dromedarys he was in contact with. This suggests the man caught the virus from the camels.

The authors of the study conclude, "These data add to recent findings showing high similarity of MERS-CoVs carried by humans and camels, supporting the hypothesis that human MERS-CoV infection may be acquired directly from camels. In addition, both animals that showed signs of recent infection were juvenile, which provides further support to previous findings that mainly young animals are infected by MERS-CoV."

image: flickr/Pushkar 2011

Hong Kong Monitors Possible MERS Infection

March 24, 2014

The Centre for Health Prevention in Hong Kong has reported a possible infection with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus (MERS).

The 61 year old woman, who suffers from chronic medical conditions, had traveled to Saudi Arabia and was visiting Hong Kong before returning to Indonesia. She arrived at North Lantau Hospital Emergency Department with fever, cough and shortness of breath and was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital where she is in serious condition.

 Close contacts of the woman have reported no symptoms of the illness.

Preliminary testing will be performed to determine if this is Hong Kong's first case of MERS. A suspected case in December 2013 and two in February, 2014 have all tested negative for the MERS virus.

The announcement stressed that, "No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," Health officials state that they will continue to monitor public and private hospitals, doctors and the airports for possible MERS infections and be as transparent with the public as possible.

According to a March 20 update, the World Health Organization has been informed of 198 laboratory confirmed cases of MERS worldwide, including 84 deaths.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five MERS Cases Reported in Riyadh; Possible Family Cluster

Five more MERS cases in Saudi Arabia (
Saudi Minister of Health has announced five cases of MERS in the Riyadh area today. The cases range in severity from asymptomatic to fatal.

Health officials report an 83 year old man who suffers from chronic health problems is in intensive care with the virus.

As announced earlier today, a 19 year old man who also suffered from underlying health problems has passed away.

Two females ages 22 and 18, reportedly sisters of the man who died, are hospitalized with mild symptoms and are in stable condition.

The fifth case is a 53 year old and possible contact of a previously confirmed case. He is asymptomatic (without symptoms).

The Saudi Ministry of Health website reports 156 cases of MERS in the Kingdom and 63 deaths.

Saudi Man Dies of MERS; Possible Family Cluster

MERS virus (CDC)
This article has been updated
(See Five MERS Cases Reported in Riyadh, 03/14/14)

According to multiple reports, Saudi Health officials have announced another death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the Kingdom.

The 19 year old man was from al-Kharj, southeast of Riyadh. The report states that two of his sisters are suspected of having the virus and are hospitalized.

The Saudi Ministry of Health website reports 156 MERS cases in the country with 63 deaths.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three More MERS Cases in Saudi Arabia, UAE

MERS infographic
from Saudi MoH
The World Health Organization has been informed of three new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS, two in Saudi Arabia and another in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Saudi patients include two men from the Riyadh area. The first is a 51 year old man who suffers from chronic medical conditions and has had exposure to animals. He became ill on February 28 and was hospitalized on March 2.

The second Saudi patient is a 56 year old man who also suffers from underlying medical problems. He began to show symptoms on February 17 and was admitted to the hospital on February 25 where he passed away on March 3.

The case in the UAE involves a 68 year old man with chronic medical conditions from Abu Dhabi.  He reported no recent travel or contact with other MERS patients however, he owns a farm where he had frequent contact with animals, including camels.

He became ill on March 1 and was hospitalized on March 3. He is currently in stable condition.

WHO now reports 189 confirmed cases of MERS worldwide and 82 deaths.

 The UAE has reported 14 infections with the virus, with 5 deaths. 

The Saudi Minister of Health website reports 151 cases in the Kingdom, including 62 fatalities. It is unclear if the two additional cases reported today are included in that number.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WHO Confirms 186 MERS Cases; 81 Deaths

MERS virus (from CDC)
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed two recent cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia today. The pair of infections was announced by the Saudi government on February 20.

The laboratory confirmation concerned a 58 year old year old man from Al-Ahsa who suffered from chronic medical conditions. He became ill on February 2 and admitted to the hospital on February 4. He subsequently recovered and was discharged on February 24. He is reported to have had contact with animals.

MERS was also confirmed in the death of an 81 year old Riyadh woman was admitted to the hospital on February 2 and developed symptoms of the virus on February 5. She passed away three days later. She had reported no contact with animals before her illness.

These latest cases bring the total of laboratory confirmed MERS cases recognized by WHO to 186, including 81 deaths. Saudi Arabia has suffered the most MERS infections, accounting for 151 of the cases and 62 fatalities, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health website.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Saudi MERS Cases Reach 150; 62 Deaths

From the Saudi Ministry of Health website
March 5, 2014 - MERS Totals in KSA
In a brief statement, the Saudi Ministry of Health announced two more MERS infections in Riyadh, one fatal.

A 55 year old man has passed away and a 51 year old man is in the Intensive Care Unit. Both men were suffering from chronic medical conditions.

No other information was released. The Saudi Ministry of Health's website now lists 150 MERS cases in the KSA, with 62 deaths.

At the last update, WHO recognized 184 confirmed MERS cases worldwide with 80 deaths. A report by the ECDC on February 23 put the total MERS cases at 186 with 87 fatalities.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Egyptian Woman Tests Negative for MERS

Egypt's First Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Science, Dr. Amr Kandil, said today that a woman from Aswan who had reportedly died of MERS has tested negative for the virus.

He had characterized the February 28 report as "just a case of suspicion" and said samples had been sent for testing.

A previous suspected case of MERS in Egypt in October, 2013 was found to be H1N1.

Suspicions that the woman had contracted MERS were raised when she became ill while performing Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

The woman, aged 56 years, was diagnosed with pneumonia in a hospital in Medina. She returned home to Egypt where she was admitted to Assiut University Hospital where she passed away.

Dr. Kandil stressed that Egypt is free of MERS so far.