The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) revealed Tuesday it has been informed of two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.
The case pertains to a 60-year-old man from Riyadh who developed respiratory illness symptoms on January 19 and was hospitalized on January 24. Despite receiving medical treatment at the hospital, the patient died on January 14.
"Respiratory specimens were collected and sent to the central laboratory in Riyadh and confirmed positive for MERS-CoV on 28 January. Details of his possible contact with animals are unknown, and he has no history of contact with a laboratory-confirmed case," the WHO press release read.
The UN agency said it has also been informed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of the death on January 16 of a previously reported case of a 33 year-old male healthcare worker from Dubai.
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.
"WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions," the press release read.
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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