Seven new cases of MERS reported to World Health Organization

WHO receives word on new MERS cases in Saudi Arabia.

Seven new cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) were identified by the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia between Feb. 17 and 25, and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Those infected include a male from Hail City, 56, who showed symptoms on Feb. 20 and three days later went into the hospital; he tested positive for MERS-CoV the next day. He is currently in the ICU in critical condition, as is a 53-year-old, non-native male from Abha, who showed symptoms on Feb. 11 and went into the hospital on Feb. 20. A 60-year-old sheep, goat and cow owner from Najran was also admitted into the hospital, two days after showing symptoms on Feb. 20. He is in a negative-pressure isolation room and is stable, as is a 74-year-old camel owner, who showed symptoms on Feb. 15 and went into the hospital on Feb. 21.

A non-native, 28-year-old female health care worker from Alkarj was found to have the MERS-CoV infection through possible contact tracing of MERS-CoV cases. She currently shows no symptoms and is isolated at home. Another non-native, a 24-year-old male from Riyadh City, showed symptoms on Feb. 14, went into the hospital two days later and was confirmed for MERS-CoV on Feb. 17. He is currently in the ICU in critical condition. Lastly, a 53-year-old from Riyadh city began showing symptoms on Feb. 13 and went into the hospital on Feb. 16. He also tested positive for MERS-CoV on Feb. 17. He is stable and at home in isolation.

An investigation as to where these cases may have contracted the infection within the two weeks of shown symptoms is still being pursued. At least 1,651 cases of the MERS-CoV infection have been reported to WHO since September 2012, with 590 of these resulting in death. MERS-CoV can be transmitted human to human, and has mostly been transmitted in health care locations. 

WHO will continue to report on new cases from the Middle East and expects that new cases will emerge in other countries via animals or animal products. In order to control MERS-CoV, WHO indicates that the utmost care must be taken in health care settings, even if someone is not currently showing MERS-CoV symptoms. Furthermore, hygiene and food hygiene are extremely important, as transmission possibilities have been confirmed.

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