Riyadh, Jordan each report 2 new MERS cases

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported two new MERS-CoV cases in Riyadh, while media reports in Jordan also note two additional illnesses, bringing to four the number of new cases in that nation this week.

In related news, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a rapid risk assessment today that sporadic imported MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases can be expected in Europe. It included specific advice for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.

One Riyadh case tied to cluster?

One of the new MERS patients in Riyadh, a 68-year-old Saudi woman, had recent contact with a MERS case in the community or healthcare settings, indicating that her illness might be linked to an outbreak involving more than 50 patients at King Abdulaziz Medical City.

The woman is listed in critical condition and is not a health worker, the Saudi MOH said in an update today.

The other patient is a 50-year-old Saudi man who had no recent contact with another MERS patient, the agency said. He is hospitalized in stable condition.

Saudi Arabia has confirmed 39 MERS-CoV cases in the past 7 days, all but 2 in Riyadh. Since Jul 21, 119 MERS cases have been reported in the country's capital. In addition to the outbreak at King Abdulaziz Medical City, a few illnesses have been reported at a second hospital, and other cases, including a family cluster, have also been noted in the city.

Staffers from King Abdulaziz will be barred from attending the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage this year, Arab News reported today.

The MOH also noted today that a 41-year-old Saudi man in Riyadh has recovered from his infection. He is not a healthcare worker and had no pre-existing disease, the agency said.

The country has now had 1,173 MERS cases and 502 deaths, the MOH said. Fifty-six patients are still undergoing treatment, and 9 are in home isolation.

Jordan cases might be linked

In Jordan, two men, aged 48 and 78, have contracted the disease, Ammon News, based in the nation's capital, reported today. Both had contact with a MERS-CoV–infected person at a hospital, the story said.

One is in stable condition and the other in critical condition, the story said, without specifying further.

Two other Jordanian cases were reported in male travelers, one 38 and one 60, yesterday and the day before. And today, Arabic-language news outlets reported that the 60-year-old patient has died.

If confirmed, the 4 new cases would bring Jordan's total to 16 MERS cases since the disease was first reported in 2012.

Risk for Europe

The ECDC said in today's MERS assessment, "Given the substantial number of people travelling between the Middle East and EU countries, sporadic imported cases to Europe can be expected."

The agency reported 110 confirmed MERS-CoV cases so far this month, mostly in Saudi Arabia. It called that number of cases in August "unexpected" and mainly attributed to the large healthcare-linked outbreak in Riyadh.

"The role of hospitals as amplifiers of MERS-CoV infection is now well known, making the strict and timely application of comprehensive infection prevention and control measures all the more imperative," the ECDC said.

The report added, "This highlights the need for awareness among healthcare workers, early detection through functioning testing algorithms, preparedness planning, and stringent infection control precautions."

In a section devoted to the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage, which is slated for Sep 21 to 26, the ECDC said, "EU citizens travelling to Middle Eastern countries, in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, need to be made aware that MERS-CoV is currently circulating in these areas, with a large hospital outbreak in Riyadh. They should be reminded of the importance of good hand and food hygiene, and advised to avoid contact with sick people."

The agency added, "Travellers to the Middle East should avoid close contact with camels, visiting camel farms, and consuming unpasteurised camel milk products or raw/under-cooked meat."

The ECDC lists the global MERS total at 1,511 cases and 574 deaths. That compares with 1,474 cases and 515 deaths as reported yesterday by the World Health Organization.

See also:

Aug 28 Saudi MOH update

Aug 28 Arab News story

Aug 28 Ammon News story

Aug 28 ECDC rapid risk assessment

Aug 27 CIDRAP News story "Jordan reports another MERS case, Riyadh cases rise by six"

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