Camel contact noted in first Saudi MERS case of 2016

Camel shadows
Camel shadows

John581 / Flickr cc

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported its first MERS-CoV case of 2016, which involves an 85-year-old man who had contact with camels before he got sick.

The patient is from Bisha, in the southwestern part of the country about 300 miles southeast of Mecca. The man is a Saudi citizen and is hospitalized in stable condition. His MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case is Saudi Arabia's first in 13 days.

His infection edges Saudi Arabia's total from the disease since the virus was first detected in 2012 to 1,280 cases, 551 of them fatal. The MOH said 3 people are still being treated for their infections.

Role of camels

Camel transmission is thought to be fueling sporadic human MERS-CoV infections, some of them asymptomatic. Though the virus doesn't seem to spread easily among humans in the community, hospitals are the exception and have been the setting for several outbreaks, some of them large.

Despite evidence for the disease in the animals, health officials in the Middle East have faced pushback from camel owners over the link between the virus and human infections. The threat was on the agenda for an international infectious disease meeting in Riyadh this week, Arab News reported today.

The 2-day event wrapped up today at Prince Sultan Military Medical City, according to the report.

See also:

Jan 12 Saudi MOH statement

Jan 12 Arab News story

This week's top reads