Saudis note 2 new MERS cases; WHO details 7 others

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 2 new MERS-CoV cases today in Buraydah, which has now had 23 cases in less than 2 weeks, while the World Health Organization (WHO) provided details on 7 previously reported Saudi cases, 4 in Buraydah.

One new case proved fatal

One of the new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases in Buraydah reported today by the MOH was fatal. It also does not appear to be linked to a large hospital outbreak in the city.

Dead is an 84-year-old Saudi man. His case is listed as "primary," meaning he likely did not acquire his infection from another patient.

The other case involves a 54-year-old foreign man who is hospitalized in critical condition. He contracted the disease in a healthcare setting, so he is probably part of a large hospital outbreak in the city. Yesterday the MOH said that 18 of 23 MERS cases reported in the city at that time were associated with one hospital, which it did not name.

Neither man is a healthcare worker. Of the 23 cases in Buraydah reported by the MOH since Mar 3, 11 have been fatal.

The agency also noted that three men have recovered from their MERS-CoV infections. Two of them, aged 36 and 81, are from Buraydah, and the other, 49 years old, is in Jeddah. The oldest man had preexisting disease, while the others, both healthcare workers, did not.

Saudi Arabia has now confirmed 39 MERS cases so far this month after reporting 24 in all of February. Only 9 of the 39 cases have involved women. Since the outbreak began in the country in 2012, the MOH has confirmed 1,346 cases, including 572 deaths. Nineteen patients are still undergoing treatment.

WHO details 7 cases, 5 severe

The WHO, meanwhile, today detailed four cases in Buraydah and one each in Taif, Jubail, and Jeddah. All tested positive for MERS-CoV on Mar 8 or 9.

Two of the cases involved recent contact with camels, a known risk factor. Two of the patients are hospitalized in stable condition, three are in critical condition, and two died.

The four patients in Buraydah are all linked to the outbreak hospital, the WHO said, and one is a healthcare professional there. Investigation into how all four might have been exposed to the virus is ongoing.

The healthcare worker, a 26-year-old man, is in stable condition after testing positive for MERS-CoV. He had preexisting disease.

The other Buraydah patients are a 22-year-old woman with comorbidities who is in severe condition, a 29-year-old man with preexisting disease who died on Mar 9, and a 50-year-old man with comorbidities who is in critical condition on a mechanical ventilator.

The three cases outside of Buraydah involve a 75-year-old man in Taif who is in critical condition, a 62-year-old man in Jubail city in critical condition, and a 64-year-old man in Jeddah who died on Mar 8. The former two had frequent camel contact and drank their raw milk, while an investigation into a possible MERS-CoV source for the third man is ongoing.

The WHO said that, since September 2012, it has been informed of 1,684 lab-confirmed MERS cases worldwide, including at least 600 deaths.

See also:

Mar 16 MOH update

Mar 16 WHO news release

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