Editor's note: This story was revised on Jul 24, 2015, to correct the date of death for the Iranian patient.
Iran recently reported its fifth MERS-CoV case and second death from the illness, while Saudi Arabia, epicenter of the outbreak, has now gone 13 days without announcing any new cases.
The MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case in Iran involved a 67-year-old woman who became very ill after her release from a hospital following treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in a statment today. She lived in Kerman province, site of all of Iran's cases so far.
The woman was hospitalized on Jun 6 for treatment of a COPD exacerbation, the WHO said. She was released Jun 14 and was in stable condition until she suffered severe respiratory symptoms and was hospitalized again Jun 25. She tested positive for MERS-CoV on Jul 5 and died the same day.
How she was exposed to the virus is unclear, the WHO reported. During the first hospitalization she had contact with another patient who had a severe acute respiratory infection that was not identified as MERS. She had no history of recent travel, contact with animals, consumption of raw camel milk products, or known contact with another MERS patient.
An investigation of the patient's relatives and hospital contacts is under way, the WHO said. A MERS-CoV case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board, lists her illness as Iran's fifth case and second fatal one. The first case was reported in May.
In addition, the WHO said Saudi Arabia has reported three deaths among previously reported MERS case-patients. These developments raised the count of confirmed cases reported to the WHO to 837, including at least 291 deaths.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has not reported a new MERS case since Jul 10, an unusually long spell without cases for a country where hospital-based outbreaks sent cases soaring through much of the spring. Since the last new case on Jul 10 the Saudi health ministry has reported just two deaths, one Jul 16 and one the 17th.
In today's update the ministry listed its case total at 721, including 30 active cases, 393 patients who recovered, and 297 deaths.
Jul 23 WHO statement
FluTrackers MERS-CoV case list