More MERS cases in South Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

South Korea's first MERS patient passed the disease to two others, and Qatar and Saudi Arabia have each identified a new case, according to government and media reports today.

South Korean officials reported the country's first MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case yesterday in a 68-year-old man who had recently made a business trip to Bahrain. Now infections have been reported in the man's wife and his initial hospital roommate, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The disease was diagnosed today in a 76-year-old man who shared a hospital room with the 68-year-old, who was not isolated initially because the nature of his illness wasn't known, the AP story said. It cited the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The head of the agency, Yang Byung-guk, MD, PhD, MPH, said the first patient's wife also contracted the disease. All three patients are hospitalized in non-critical condition, the story said.

Officials also said 64 hospital workers and contacts of the three patients have been quarantined.

Yang said the first patient had visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Bahrain. Earlier reports said he had visited Bahrain and passed through Qatar on his way home on May 4.

Camel worker infected

In Qatar, the government's Supreme Council of Health (SCH) reported that a 29-year-old foreigner who works at a camel farm tested positive for MERS-CoV after seeking care on May 19 for a fever and cough.

The patient, who has no underlying illnesses or recent travel history, is hospitalized in stable condition, the SCH said. The statement also said officials are monitoring other workers and camels at the barn where the patient works, and all his contacts are being advised to take preventive measures and report any respiratory symptoms.

The new case is Qatar's third this year, the SCH said. A MERS case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board, lists the new case as the country's 14th overall; 6 cases have been fatal.

Latest Saudi case

Saudi Arabia's new case involves a 48-year-old Saudi man in Hofuf in the Eastern province, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH). He is listed in critical condition in a hospital intensive care unit. He is not a healthcare worker, but he had contact with suspected or confirmed MERS cases in a community or medical setting.

Hofuf has had a series of cases in the past few weeks, including four that were reported May 9 and appeared to represent a family cluster.

With the Hofuf case, Saudi Arabia's official MERS count has reached 1,002 cases, including 434 deaths. Nine patients are still being treated, and one is in home isolation.

See also:

May 21 AP story on South Korean cases

May 21 Qatar SCH report

May 21 Saudi MOH update

May 11 CIDRAP News story noting possible Hofuf cluster

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