Five new MERS cases reported in 3 countries

Five new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections, two fatal, were reported today in three countries, including the first one in Kuwait since November and another illness with links to camels.

The Kuwaiti case was announced today in a disease update from the World Health Organization (WHO), which cited information it received from the country's health officials on Mar 18. Only the third case detected in the country so far, it involves a 60-year-old Syrian citizen who was hospitalized in Kuwait on Feb 13.

The WHO said the man, who had underlying health conditions, died on Mar 6 and that his MERS-CoV infection was confirmed on Mar 9.

Also, the WHO announced a second case, in a 68-year-old man from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who often visits Saudi Arabia, where he owns a camel farm. He got sick on Mar 7 and was hospitalized on Mar 11 with a finger injury, 5 days after he returned from Saudi Arabia.

The man, from Abu Dhabi, has underlying health conditions and has mild symptoms, the WHO said. His MERS-CoV infection was confirmed on Mar 17.

Saudi patients

The other three cases today were reported by Saudi Arabia's health ministry. According to a machine-translation of a statement in Arabic posted on the ministry Web site, the patients are all from Riyadh and include a 71-year-old man, a 66-year-old man, and an 86-year-old whose gender wasn't clear and who died.

All three patients had underlying medical conditions, and the two survivors are being treated in intensive care units.

MERS cases now top 200

The WHO said it has received reports of 198 MERS-CoV cases, 84 of them fatal. The three new cases and additional fatality announced by Saudi Arabia today would push the total to 201 illnesses and 85 deaths.

The new UAE case is one of a few recent cases in which the patients had exposure to camels. A UAE case reported by the WHO on Mar 12 involved a man who owns camels. Also, a 19-year-old Saudi man who died of MERS early this month had been exposed to camels, the WHO reported on Mar 14.

Dromedary camels in the Middle East are known to harbor MERS-CoV and are a suspected source of human cases, but the connection has not been firmly established.

See also:

Mar 20 WHO statement

Mar 20 Saudi Arabia health ministry statement (in Arabic)

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