More hospital links emerge in Riyadh MERS surge

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shed more light on a steadily growing hospital-linked MERS-CoV outbreak in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, revealing that at least 12 of 17 recently confirmed illnesses had healthcare links.

In a related development, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) announced four more cases today, three of them from Riyadh. Since Aug 1, the MOH has reported 27 cases from the capital city.

Strong links to hospital settings

In an update today, the WHO provided details about 17 lab-confirmed Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections reported by Saudi Arabia between Aug 3 and Aug 9. Three of the patients died from their infections, and during the same time period Saudi Arabia reported the deaths of two other patients whose cases had been previously reported to the WHO.

All are from Riyadh, except for a 50-year-old from Najran who has a history of frequent contact with camels and consumes raw camel milk. The man, who works as a hospital administrator, got sick on Jul 29 and is hospitalized in stable condition.

Today's report doesn't name the hospital or hospitals, but says 12 Riyadh patients had been admitted to a hospital that "has been experiencing a MERS-CoV outbreak." Three of the patients are known contacts of previously confirmed cases, one of them a relative. The Saudi media and MOH have noted that at least six recent cases involved a family cluster.

Three of the patients in today's update are healthcare workers, all three female expats, ages 55, 29, and 31. The latter patient is pregnant and is in critical condition.

The WHO said four of the MERS-CoV patients had been admitted to the hospital for unrelated medical conditions.

Illness onsets for the patients in today's report range from Jul 10 to Aug 6. Seven are female and 10 male.

The three patients who died include a 72-year-old woman with preexisting medical conditions and two men, ages 75 and 78, also with underlying medical issues. Among the other patients, nine are in stable condition and five are listed as critical.

Globally, as of today the WHO has received reports of 1,401 MERS-CoV infections, including at least 500 deaths. The largest portion of cases are from Saudi Arabia.

Three more Riyadh cases

Few details were available about four new cases reported by the Saudi health ministry, other than that three are from Riyadh and one is from Abha, a city in the southwest corner of the country. The latest information is included in a graphic on the MOH MERS-CoV awareness page, called "We Can Stop This."

The new case lifts Saudi Arabia's total from the disease to 1,086 cases. In today's graphic the MOH said one patient in Riyadh has recovered from MERS-CoV, boosting that total to 588. Ten people are still being treated.

The graphic says one earlier-announced case-patient from Riyadh has died, increasing the country's overall death toll to 474.

See also:

 Aug 12 WHO update

Saudi MOH MERS awareness page

Newsletter Sign-up

Get CIDRAP news and other free newsletters.

Sign up now»


Unrestricted financial support provided by

Bentson Foundation 3MAccelerate DiagnosticsGilead 
Grant support for ASP provided by

  Become an underwriter»