Saudi Arabia, UAE report MERS cases days before hajj

Over the weekend, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported four new MERS-CoV cases in Dumah Al Jandal, while the World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed a new case in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), just days before the hajj pilgrimage begins.

At this time, it's not known if the new Saudi cases are related to a hospital outbreak reported in Dumah Al Jandal at the beginning of August.

The patients include a 33-year-old Saudi female who is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The woman's source of infection is listed as "primary," which means it's unlikely she contracted the virus from another person. Her case was reported yesterday.

On Aug 26, the MOH identified three people listed as household contacts of a primary patient. They include 10- and 14-year-old Saudi girls who are asymptomatic and in stable condition. A 50-year-old Saudi man is also in stable condition after having symptoms of MERS-CoV.

Dumah Al Jandal is in the northwest corner of the country. Hajj, the annual pilgrimage that brings between 1 million and 2 million Muslims to Saudi Arabia, begins on Wednesday. There have been no MERS cases reported in Mecca, the main hajj destination, in recent weeks.

The latest cases raise Saudi Arabia's overall MERS-CoV total to 1,706, including 691 deaths, since the disease was first reported in 2012. Twelve people are still being treated for their infections.

On Aug 10 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published a risk assessment related to the hajj that included MERS. The agency said pilgrims should seek medical attention if they have a fever of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or over, cough, or difficulty breathing.

UAE reports case in Al Ain

The new WHO-confirmed MERS case in the UAE, meanwhile, is the first reported there since early June.

The patient presented with symptoms of the disease on Jul 16 and was initially diagnosed as having pneumonia. After his condition worsened and antibiotics failed, the patient tested positive for MERS-CoV and was placed in an intensive care unit in Al Ain. He is currently on mechanical ventilation, and officials are investigating the source of his infection.

In early June the UAE reported a pair of infections in Al Ain in men—a butcher and a farmer—who had direct links with camels.

According to the WHO, countries have reported 2,067 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV globally, including at least 720 related deaths.

See also:

Aug 27 MOH report

Aug 26 MOH report

Aug 10 ECDC risk assessment

Aug 28 WHO update

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