Bangladesh has first MERS case

Bangladesh yesterday reported its first MERS-CoV case, involving a Bangladeshi man who lives in the United States and got sick after flying to his native land via Abu Dhabi, according to media reports.

The patient, age 53, flew to Bangladesh on Jun 4 and fell ill on Jun 6, according an Agence-France Presse (AFP) report quoting Mahmudur Rahman, director of the nation's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

"Most probably he contracted the virus during the three hours at Abu Dhabi airport or in the plane," Rahman told AFP. The United Arab Emirates, site of Abu Dhabi, has had at least 70 MERS cases.

Rahman said the man's condition was improving, but he was in intensive care in a Dhaka clinic. He reported that the case was confirmed as MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) yesterday after a series of tests.

Bangladesh is the 22nd country to report a MERS case, following Algeria on May 31 and Iran on May 26.

Rahman told AFP it was only a matter of time before MERS arrived in Bangladesh. The story said about 3 million Bangladeshis work in the Middle East, more than two thirds of them in Saudi Arabia.

The vast majority of MERS cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia, and all cases in countries outside the Middle East had links to that part of the world.

Latest Saudi case

In other developments, Saudi Arabia reported a new MERS case yesterday, in a 58-year-old expatriate in Riyadh.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the man, who is not a healthcare worker, is in stable condition and has no preexisting conditions. It gave no information on how he was exposed to the virus or when he got sick.

Yesterday the MOH also reported a death in a previously announced case, that of a 45-year-old Saudi man in Dhahran.

The ministry reported no new cases today or on Jun 14. Its MERS count stands at 703 cases and 289 deaths.

More details on 2 Saudi cases

Also today, the World Health Organization (WHO) supplied new details about two MERS cases that were announced by Saudi Arabia on Jun 12 and 13.

One patient is a 36-year-old truck driver who lives in Almakhwah in the Baha region, the WHO said. He got sick on Jun 4, was hospitalized with mild pneumonia 5 days later, and is in stable condition.

The WHO said the man often commutes to Qunfudah and to the Riyadh region, both of which have had MERS cases recently. Also, the patient may have had contact with animals because he delivers hay to a "mixed animal market." He has had no contact with other known MERS patients.

The other patient is an asymptomatic 33-year-old man who lives in Qunfudhah and works as a national security guard, the WHO reported. His infection was found through screening of contacts of previously confirmed case-patients reported between Apr 11 and Jun 9.

The man frequently travels to Jeddah, a recent MERS-CoV hot spot, but has no history of contact with animals, the WHO said.

The agency said Saudi Arabia also has reported another 38 deaths among the MERS-CoV cases it reported between Apr 11 and Jun 9. With these reports, the WHO has raised its global MERS tally to 701 cases, including at least 249 deaths.

WHO on Algerian cases

In other MERS news, the WHO on Jun 14 noted the first two cases in Algeria, which were originally announced by the agency's Regional Office for Africa on May 31.

The virus struck two men, ages 66 and 59, who went on separate pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia. The WHO said both of them got sick on May 23 while in Saudi Arabia.

The two were hospitalized after returning home to Algeria, and they tested positive for MERS-CoV on May 30. The WHO said the 59-year-old died on Jun 10, contrary to a Jun 10 media report that said the 66-year-old died that day. The WHO statement gave no information on the 66-year-old's current condition.

The WHO supplied no details on the two patients' exposure history while in Saudi Arabia or on monitoring of their contacts.

Meanwhile, the WHO's emergency committee on MERS-CoV met today to consider again whether the MERS threat meets the definition of an international public health emergency. Its decision is expected to be announced tomorrow.

See also:

Jun 16 AFP story on Bangladesh case

Jun 15 Saudi MOH statement on new case

Jun 16 WHO statement on two Saudi cases

Jun 14 WHO statement on Algerian cases

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