Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CIDRAP: New MERS-CoV case reported as puzzles persist

May 22, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – Saudi Arabia reported today that a foreigner died yesterday of a MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection, while health officials in Jordan offered new details—some of them puzzling—about a hospital cluster of cases that occurred there in April 2012.
In a brief statement, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) announced "the demise of a non-Saudi case of novel Coronavirus in al-Qassim region," a province in the central part of the country. The person was hospitalized a few days ago with a severe respiratory illness and died yesterday, the statement said.
The MOH gave no information on the patient's age, gender, nationality, previous health status, occupation, residency status, or possible exposures to the virus. The statement noted that no new cases have emerged in the past 5 days in the Al-Ahsa region in Eastern province, site of a hospital-centered MERS-CoV outbreak involving 22 cases.
The announcement comes a day after a press report that a World Health Organization (WHO) expert, Anthony Mounts, MD, expressed concern that guest workers in the Middle East could spread the novel virus to their home countries, particularly India and the Philippines.
The WHO said today that the death toll in the Al-Ahsa outbreak has increased to 10 with the death of a patient whose case was announced earlier. The WHO gave no other information about the patient, and it wasn't immediately clear if the death is the same one that was noted by the Saudi MOH in a May 20 statement.
Today's WHO statement also offered some details on the two confirmed MERS-CoV cases and one probable case in a Tunisian family, which were first reported by the media 2 days ago. They were the first known cases in Tunisia.
The probable case was in a 66-year-old man who got sick 3 days after returning from a trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia on May 3, the WHO said. After being hospitalized, he died on May 10. Initial lab tests for the virus were negative, the agency reported.
The two confirmed cases involved the man's 34-year-old son and 35-year-old daughter, who had mild respiratory illnesses and were not hospitalized, the WHO said. Officials are still investigating the outbreak and monitoring the patients' close contacts for signs of illness.
The WHO said the global count for MERS-CoV stood at 43 cases with 21 deaths, the same as cited by a WHO official via Twitter yesterday. As of this writing, the agency has not yet noted the fatal case announced by the Saudi health ministry today.
Jordanian cluster
Details on the Jordanian case cluster were provided yesterday in an online report from the Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, published by the WHO's Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. 

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