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Two Cases Of MERS Infection Reported In Saudi Arabia, Jordan: WHO

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that it was informed of two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), one in Saudi Arabia and the other in Jordan.

The case in Saudi Arabia pertains to a 54 year old man from Riyadh who developed respiratory illness symptoms on December 29 and was hospitalized on January 4. The patient received medical treatment in an intensive care unit, but died on January 14.

WHO said samples tested positive for MERS-CoV after the patient's death. The patient was a health care worker. He had a history of chronic disease and had no history of contacts with animals or contact with known cases of MERS-CoV. In addition, he had no travel history.

The other case is of a 48 year old man from Jordan, who became ill on December 31 and developed fever, dry cough, difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain and vomiting. He was admitted to a hospital on January 9, but died on January 23. A sample taken from the patient on January 21 tested positive by PCR for MERS-CoV.

That patient had underlying health conditions and he had traveled to the United Kingdom from November 12 to December 25 seeking treatment for his underlying conditions. The patient had no history of animal contact and is believed to have not attended any large social events in the last 30 days. It is reported that he had received 2 guests from Kuwait between December 25 and 31. WHO said national authorities were further investigating in Jordan and UK.

From September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 180 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV globally, including 77 deaths.

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO urged all Member-States to continue their surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and carefully review any unusual patterns. WHO stressed that recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause a range of ailments from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which became an epidemic in 2003. The virus could be transmitted between people in close and prolonged contact. The sources of infection for the new coronavirus are still unclear.

The deadly Novel Coronavirus (NCoV) strain, recently renamed MERS-CoV, reflects the fact that most of the reported cases are from that region, mainly Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom have also reported laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infections. Those patients were either transferred there for care of the disease or returned from the Middle East and subsequently became ill.

by RTT Staff Writer

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