Officials detail recent MERS surge, Buraydah hospital cluster

The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 8 new MERS-CoV cases in the past 3 days—2 in Buraydah, which has now had 21 cases since Mar 3—and today the World Health Organization (WHO) detailed 25 recent cases in the Mideast nation.

The WHO update includes details not noted before on 12 Buraydah patients. It notes that the 12 are all connected to the same hospital, and one might be the index patient there.

Five patients in critical condition

The two new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases in Buraydah involve a health worker—the only one of the eight patients reported by the Saudi MOH since Mar 12 in that profession—and a 33-year-old man. Both are foreigners living in the city.

The healthcare worker, a 31-year-old woman whose case was confirmed on Mar 12, tested positive for the virus but has had no symptoms. She acquired her MERS-CoV infection in a healthcare setting, the MOH said.

The 33-year-old man is hospitalized in critical condition, the MOH said yesterday. His potential source of infection is under investigation. Of the eight new cases, five patients are hospitalized in critical condition.

Two of the other six cases are in Ha'il, with the rest in Al Bahah, Riyadh, Al-Kharj, and Taif. All involve Saudi nationals.

One of the Ha'il patients is a 60-year-old man whose exposure source is under investigation, the MOH said yesterday. The other patient, whose case was confirmed Mar 12, is a 48-year-old man whose case is listed as primary, meaning he likely did not contract the disease from another patient. Both men are in critical condition.

The other patients noted on Mar 12 are an 83-year-old man in Al Bahah in stable condition and a 74-year-old woman in Riyadh in critical condition. The source of the man's infection is under investigation, while the woman's is listed as primary.

The two new cases that the MOH confirmed today involve a 45-year-old man in Al-Kharj and a 47-year-old man in Taif. The man in Al-Kharj is hospitalized in critical condition. He had recent contact with a camel, a known risk factor. The other man is in stable condition. He had recent contact with a MERS patient from his household.

Saudi Arabia has now confirmed 35 MERS cases so far this month after reporting 24 in all of February. Only 8 of the 35 cases have involved women.

The MOH yesterday also noted two deaths in previously reported MERS-CoV patients in Buraydah, a 22-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man. Both were Saudis with preexisting disease, and neither was a health worker.

The new cases and deaths bring the country's outbreak total since 2012 to 1,342, including 569 deaths, the MOH said today.

WHO details 12 Buraydah cases, 13 others

Today's WHO update, meanwhile, details 12 Buraydah cases and 13 elsewhere across Saudi Arabia that were reported previously by the MOH. The WHO noted today for the first time that the healthcare-related cluster in Buraydah involves a single hospital.

In the Buraydah cluster, the patient reporting the earliest symptoms—raising the possibility he might be the index patient—was a 56-year-old male expatriate who developed symptoms on Feb 6 and was admitted to the outbreak hospital, which is not named, the same day. He died the next day.

The WHO provided details on the other 11 Buraydah patients, all linked to the same hospital:

  • 70-year-old man, illness-onset Feb 10, currently in stable condition
  • 24-year-old man, Feb 19, critical
  • 42-year-old man, Feb 26, stable
  • 36-year-old man, Feb 28, stable
  • 67-year-old woman, Feb 28, died
  • 40-year-old man, Feb 28, died
  • 81-year-old man, Mar 1, critical
  • 68-year-old woman, Mar 2, stable
  • 23-year-old man, Mar 2, critical
  • 76-year-old man, Mar 3, stable
  • 62-year-old man, Mar 3, stable—this patient is a physician

Of the 13 other patients, 5 are from Riyadh, with 1 each from Al Zulfi, Ar Rass, Ha'il, Jeddah, Shaqra, Al Artawiyah, Muhayil, and Arruwaidhah. The patient in Muhayil, a 50-year-old man, also died from his infection.

Among the surviving 21 patients, 7 are in critical condition and 14 are hospitalized in stable condition in negative-pressure isolation rooms, the WHO said. Their ages range from 23 to 82. Nineteen of the 25 had preexisting disease, and 6 reported camel contact, including the 42-year-old man in Buraydah and the 50-year-old in Muhayil who died.

The only other healthcare worker among the 25 is a 49-year-old male physician in Jeddah. He has comorbidities and is in stable condition, the WHO said. He first developed MERS symptoms on Feb 26 and tested positive for the virus on Mar 4.

See also:

Mar 12 Saudi MOH update

Mar 13 Saudi MOH update

Mar 14 Saudi MOH update

Mar 14 WHO news release

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