WHO details 8 recent Saudi MERS cases, 3 deaths

The World Health Organization (WHO) today released an overview of eight new MERS cases reported in Saudi Arabia from Sep 17 to Oct 15. Of the eight cases, three proved fatal.

With the new cases, the total global number of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases reported to WHO since 2012 is 2,262 with 803 associated deaths.

Three of the new cases were in Riyadh, and two were in Buraydah. Taif, Najran, and Asyah also reported one new case each. None of the patients were healthcare workers, and all but one were men. Patients' ages ranged from 22 to 66.

Exposures include camels, hospital

Two patients, a 41-year-old man from Taif and a 64-year-old man from Riyadh, had camel exposure prior to symptom onset, including reported consumption of camel milk.

Of the eight cases reported, three were hospital contacts in one hospital in Dammam and two were household contacts in Riyadh. The three patients who died all had contact with a MERS case and passed away from Sep 19 to Sep 29.

The youngest patient, age 22, was the only one who did not have underlying medical conditions. None of the patients were healthcare workers.

The WHO said the cases illustrate the careful measures that must be taken with possible MERS patients in the hospital setting.

"It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because like other respiratory infections, the early symptoms of MERS-CoV are non-specific," the WHO said. "Therefore, healthcare workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis.

"Droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection; contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection; airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures."

See also:

Nov 1 WHO update

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