South Korea has its first MERS case; UAE finds 2

MERS has reached South Korea for the first time with a case in a man who recently returned there from Bahrain, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has identified what appears to be its second and third asymptomatic cases this week, according to media reports today.

South Korean officials said the case there involves a 68-year-old man who was in Bahrain on farming-related business from Apr 18 to May 3, according to a Reuters report today. It said he is in stable condition after being treated for a high fever and cough. The South Korean health ministry said he traveled through Qatar in returning home on May 4.

Reuters also reported that the man's wife, who nursed him, has a minor respiratory illness and is being tested for MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The result will be available tomorrow, Kim Young-taek, a director at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters.

The case also represents the first MERS-CoV illness associated with Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf, according to a MERS-CoV case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board.

Asymptomatic cases in UAE

In the UAE, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi today reported two asymptomatic MERS cases, according to the Emirates News Agency. They follow the report from the World Health Organization 2 days ago of an asymptomatic case in a foreign truck driver who transports camels and lives in Abu Dhabi.

The story said the two new cases were identified through active investigation, but it didn't specify whether the patients are contacts of the camel hauler or give any other details about the patients. The lack of information leaves open the possibility that one of the cases is actually that of the truck driver and that only one case is new.

The patients have been isolated in a hospital out of caution, and their contacts are being traced, the report said.

The latest cases raise the UAE's overall MERS count to 74, with just 4 cases this year, according to FluTrackers.

See also:

May 20 Reuters story

May 20 Emirates News Agency story

FluTrackers MERS-CoV case list

May 18 CIDRAP News story on previous UAE case

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