News Scan for Nov 14, 2013

Qatar reports another MERS case
MERS-CoV shell as transmission clues

Qatar reports MERS-CoV in foreign visitor

Qatar's health ministry today reported another Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, its second case reported in the past week, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported today.

The patient is a 61-year-old who came to Qatar about a month ago looking for work, according to the machine-translated news story posted on the infectious disease blog Avian Flu Diary. Few details were available, other than that the patient had underlying medical conditions, he is being treated in an intensive care unit, and all contacts have tested negative for the virus so far.

Meanwhile, a few new details emerged in media reports about the second of two MERS-CoV cases that Kuwait reported yesterday. The patient is a 52-year-old Kuwaiti man who had just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. He is hospitalized in stable condition.

So far neither of the two cases in Kuwait reported yesterday has been confirmed by a final round of lab tests, though results are expected soon on the first of the two patients, a 47-year-old man who is hospitalized, according to a Twitter post today from Gregory Hartl, a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman.

If all three cases are confirmed, the global number of WHO-confirmed MERS-CoV cases would climb to 156, including 64 deaths.
Nov 14 Avian Flu Diary blog post
Nov 14 AFP story
Nov 13 CIDRAP News scan 'Kuwait announces its first two MERS cases'
Gregory Hartl's Twitter feed


Study hints at oral-fecal MERS-CoV transmission

A research team that devised a method for classifying coronaviruses according to the hardness of their inner and outer shells found the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) falls in a group that can persist longer in the environment and has a larger oral-fecal transmission potential than other groups.

The team, from Singapore, the University of Indiana, and the University of South Florida, reported its findings yesterday in PLoS Currents: Outbreaks.

First reported by the same group in 2012 before the MERS-CoV virus was identified, the system uses a protein intrinsic disorder (PID)-based model to classify coronaviruses. In earlier work, the group found that the SARS virus belonged to another group and suggested that it had a moderate ability to spread by respiratory and oral-fecal routes.

Exploring the role of the hard inner and outer shell of the MERS-CoV virus might shed new light on the transmission of the virus and could explain some of the puzzling aspects seen so far, such as why few people who are exposed to MERS-CoV appear to become infected, the authors said.

The team wrote that the potentially larger oral-fecal potential may hint at the virus's virulence and adaptability to a broad range of animal hosts and that its harder shell might also facilitate oral-urine and saliva transmission.
Nov 13 PLoS Curr abstract

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