A string of MERS cases in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Hofuf continued with six more in 3 days, while Oman reported its sixth case yesterday, keeping the growing MERS outbreak in South Korea from stealing all of the spotlight.
The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported four MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases, one of them fatal, on May 30, and two more today. Four other deaths were reported in previously announced cases.
Exposure to other patients
None of the six patients were healthcare workers, but all four in the May 30 announcement had contact with other suspected or confirmed cases in healthcare or community settings, and today's two cases may have had such exposures, the MOH said.
The cases reported May 30 involve four Saudis, including two women ages 57 and 50 and two men ages 38 and 43. The 50-year-old woman died, while the 43-year-old man is in critical condition and the other two patients are stable, the MOH said.
Today the MOH reported MERS in two Saudi men, a 54-year-old in critical condition and a 50-year-old who is stable. The patients' possible exposures to the virus are "under review," the ministry said.
The MERS case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board, shows that 13 of the last 15 cases reported in Saudi Arabia, dating to May 22, have been in Hofuf. The city lies in the Eastern province, near the Persian Gulf. On May 11 the MOH reported four Hofuf cases that appeared to represent a family cluster.
The four deaths in previously reported cases all involved men: a 70-year-old in Hofuf (May 30), a 65-year-old in Taif (May 30), a 57-year-old in Hofuf (yesterday), and a 41-year-old in Huraymila (today).
With the latest cases and deaths, the MOH's MERS tally has climbed to 1,016, which includes 447 deaths and 7 patients still being treated.
Sparse info on Oman case
The new MERS patient in Oman is a 75-year-old who has severe pneumonia and a high fever but is in stable condition in a hospital, said a Times of Oman story yesterday, citing the Omani Ministry of Health. The story gave no other details on the patient or his or her possible exposures to the virus.
It said the case is only the country's sixth MERS infection, which agrees with the FluTrackers case list. The last previous case was reported in January.
In other Mideastern MERS developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) filled in some information today on two Saudi Arabian cases reported last week.
One patient is a 71-year-old foreigner living in Hofuf who was hospitalized on May 10 for a condition unrelated to MERS. He became ill on May 21 and tested positive for MERS-CoV 3 days later, and is now in stable condition in an isolation room, the WHO said.
The other patient was a 68-year-old woman from Hofuf who was admitted to a cardiac treatment center with chest pain and fever on May 13, the agency said. She became short of breath on May 20, tested positive for the virus May 23, and died 2 days later. Her family owns camels and sheep, and an investigation of her exposure to risk factors is under way, the WHO said.
In addition, the WHO yesterday offered details about a 73-year-old Qatari man whose MERS case was reported on May 22. The patient, who hails from Doha, was hospitalized on May 12 and tested positive for the virus on May 21; he is critical condition.
Though the man has no history of direct contact with camels, his family owns a camel barn, and family members have had contact with the animals and have drunk raw camel milk, the WHO reported. Officials are tracing the man's household and healthcare contacts.
Jun 1 Saudi MOH statement
May 31 Saudi MOH statement
May 30 Saudi MOH statement
May 31 Times of Oman story
Jun 1 WHO statement on two Saudi cases
May 31 WHO statement on Qatari case
FluTrackers MERS case list