Thursday, April 17, 2014

MERS in Philippines Linked to UAE Cluster; WHO Confirms Malaysian Case

Health care facilities have been the source
of the majority of new MERS infections
The World Health Organization has been informed of four more MERS cases originating in the United Arab Emirates.

One returned to his home country of the Philippines where he is in isolation after testing positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus, commonly known as MERS.

WHO also confirmed a Malaysian man died of MERS after participating in the Umrah Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

The UAE announcement involves four men who worked at a hospital in Abu Dhabi. They were discovered to be infected following routine contact testing of a man who died of the MERS virus on April 10.

The ages of the men range from 28 to 44 and none have underlying medical conditions. One became ill on April 14 and the rest are asymptomatic (without symptoms).

One man returned to his home in the Philippines before test results were received, despite being advised to remain.

According to Enrique Ona, Philippine Health Secretary, he is being held in isolation after testing positive for the virus and is not showing symptoms at this time.

His family has also been quarantined and contacts are being screened for MERS.

This cluster follows the April 15 announcement that six paramedics in the city of Al Ain, UAE had tested positive for MERS and one had died.

These latest cases could raise the total MERS infections in the UAE to 30 and the number of countries where infections have been reported to fourteen.

The Malaysian case is the first MERS infection in that country and in Asia. The man, who reportedly had diabetes, traveled to Jeddah with 17 others for the Umrah pilgrimage on March 15.

While in Saudi Arabia, he is reported to have visited a camel farm and drank camel milk. He returned home on March 28.

He became ill on April 4 and visited a private clinic on April 7. He was admitted to the hospital on April 9 and passed away on the 13th.

Dr. S Subramaniam, Health Minister is urging passengers who flew on Turkish Airlines flights TK93 and TK60 to contact the Health Ministry for MERS screening.

MERS was detected in three more countries this week with today's report from the Philippines and recent announcements from Malaysia and Yemen. All cases have had direct links to the Middle East and health care workers appear to be especially at risk.

WHO has now confirmed 243 MERS cases and 93 deaths worldwide.

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