News Scan for Apr 28, 2017

More MERS in Saudi Arabia
Liberian illness cluster update

MERS sickens three more in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia today reported three more MERS-CoV cases, all of them in men from different parts of the country, two of whom had direct contact with camels.

In a statement today, the country's Ministry of Health (MOH) said Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections linked to camel contact involve a 65-year-old Saudi from Hasu in the west and a 61-year-old Saudi from Mahayel in the southwest, both of them hospitalized in stable condition.

The third illness was reported in an 81-year-old Saudi from Hafuf in the east who is listed in critical condition. An investigation so far points to primary exposure to the virus, meaning he probably didn't contract it from another person.

The newly reported cases lift Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV total since the virus was first detected in humans in 2012 to 1,598 cases, 661 of them fatal. Six people are still being treated for their infections.
Apr 28 Saudi MOH statement


Probe of unexplained illness cluster in Liberia includes food and water

Though they have ruled out Ebola, investigators in Liberia are still trying to determine the cause of a cluster of unexplained deaths and illnesses in people who attended a religious leader's funeral in Sinoe County, a spokeswoman from the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

Fadela Chaib said in an e-mail update to reporters that further testing is under way to explore if the patients consumed the same food or drinks or were exposed to an environmental chemical or bacterial contaminant. Samples from water sources are being collected for testing.

So far the number of deaths remains at 9 and the overall number of patients sickened in the cluster stands at 17. Eight people are still hospitalized at a hospital in Greenville, about a 4.5-hour drive south of Monrovia, Liberia's capital. Symptoms have included fever, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea.

The WHO said district and county rapid response teams have been activated and that the WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other partners are providing technical and logistical support. As a precaution, patients who are part of the cluster have been isolated, and clinical staff are wearing personal protective equipment. Other response steps include case-finding, contact tracing, consultation with community leaders, and social mobilization to encourage residents to go to the hospital when they are sick.

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