MERS mortality linked to age, illness severity, hospital infection

Advanced age, severe illness, and hospital-acquired infections top the list of predictors of mortality for MERS patients measured at 3 days, 30 days, and 45 days after initial diagnosis, according to a study yesterday in BMC Infectious Diseases.

To conduct the study, the authors used daily information posted by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) collected between Dec 2, 2014, and Nov 12, 2016, on 660 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection. The MOH shared the sex, age, and location of MERS patients, as well as how they contracted the disease (if known), if they were symptomatic, the disease severity, and preexisting conditions.

The study found that 3-day, 30-day, and overall mortality were 13.8%, 28.3%, and 29.8%. 

Patients over the age of 60 were more likely to die from their infections than were younger patients. "Mortality occurs more often in elderly patients (45.2%) than in those under age 60 (20.0%). Being elderly was associated with a 1.7 times higher risk of 3- and 30-day mortality as compared with those under age 60," the authors said.

Patients with preexisting illness were twice as likely to die and those with hospital-acquired infections almost three times as likely to die in the 30-day mortality window compared with previously healthy patients. And illness severity was associated with a 6.5-fold increased risk of death 3-days post-infection.

The strongest association was between non-healthcare workers and mortality; non-healthcare workers had a 19.2 times increased risk of death at 30 days as healthcare workers. The authors attribute this phenomenon to earlier testing and monitoring of health professionals.

MERS in Oman

In other MERS news, the World Health Organization (WHO) today said Oman has reported its first MERS case in 2017.

A 54-year-old man from Al Batinah region who had comorbidities was diagnosed as having MERS on Aug 30. The man was not a healthcare worker and had no contact with camels. The country's previous case was reported on Nov 29, 2016.

According to the WHO, there have been 2,080 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 722 related deaths, reported to the agency since the disease was first diagnosed in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

See also:

Sep 11 BMC Infect Dis study

Sep 12 WHO statement

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