South Korea, Saudi Arabia confirm more MERS cases

Korean doctors
Korean doctors

David Ahn / iStock

South Korea has had two more MERS-CoV cases among contacts with its first MERS case—now five cases total—and Saudi Arabia reported four new infections in as many days.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued statements recently on the first three Korean MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases, recent cases in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and 16 recent Saudi cases.

Korean health worker infected

The two new cases in South Korea involve the daughter of the third Korean MERS patient and a healthcare worker (HCW) involved in MERS care, according to separate reports today from the Korea Herald.

The daughter, however, likely did not contract the disease from her 76-year-old father, who shared a hospital room with South Korea's first MERS-CoV case-patient, a 68-year-old who had traveled to the Middle East, the Herald reported. Officials believe she contracted MERS from the 68-year-old man while visiting her father in the hospital.

She was quarantined as one of the 64 contacts of the first patient, the story said. She tested positive for MERS-CoV at a state-designated hospital after she developed a fever higher than 100°F. She is in stable condition, according to officials.

A separate Korea Herald story, translated and posted today by the infectious disease blog Avian Flu Diary, said that one of two HCWs with suspected MERS has tested positive for the disease, while the other HCW appears to have tested negative.

South Korea's first MERS case was reported May 20, while the second case—involving the man's wife—and the third were reported the next day.

Four new Saudi cases

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed four MERS-CoV cases in 4 days, all in those 65 years and older. Three are in Hofuf in the eastern part of the country near Qatar. The MOH also reported four MERS-related deaths in that span.

The Hofuf cases were reported on May 23, May 24, and yesterday. They involve 77- and 68-year-old Saudi women in critical condition in intensive care units (ICUs) and a 71-year-old male expatriate in stable condition. None are HCWs, but all had contact with a confirmed MERS case-patient.

Hofuf has had a number of cases in the past few weeks, including four that reported on May 9 that appear to represent a family cluster.

The Saudi case reported today by the MOH involves a 65-year-old Saudi man in Taif, which is near Mecca. He is listed in critical condition in an ICU. He is not an HCW, and his potential contact with MERS-CoV patients is under investigation.

The deaths were reported on the same days as the Hofuf cases. They involve a 71-year-old man in Riyadh, a 75-year-old man in Begig, and two women, 68 and 77, in Hofuf. None were HCWs, all had pre-existing disease, and all were Saudi citizens.

Saudi Arabia's MOH also posted a weekly update on May 24 containing no new information. These updates have been sporadic at best.

WHO updates flesh out exposures

The WHO, meanwhile, posted details on May 24 about South Korea's first three MERS-CoV cases. It noted that the index patient traveled extensively in the Middle East: to Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. It added that all three patients are in stable condition.

Other WHO updates highlighted contact with camels and other MERS cases before symptom onset. The recent case-patient from the UAE, for example, "has a history of contact with MERS-CoV infected camels imported from Oman," the agency said on May 24. The UAE reported this case, which involves a 33-year-old man, to the WHO on May 18.

The Qatari patient, a 29-year-old man, had frequent contact with camels, the WHO said in a separate May 24 statement.

And, in updates involving 16 Saudi MERS-CoV patients posted Mar 24 and yesterday, the WHO said 2 patients had contact with camels and 8 had possible exposure to other MERS patients. Two of the 16 patients are in critical condition, and 2 died.

See also:

May 26 Korea Herald story on fourth MERS patient

May 26 Avian Flu Diary post

May 23 Saudi MOH update

May 24 Saudi MOH update

May 25 Saudi MOH update

May 26 Saudi MOH update

May 24 Saudi MOH weekly update

May 24 WHO statement on South Korean cases

May 24 WHO statement on UAE case

May 24 WHO statement on Qatari case

May 24 WHO statement on Saudi cases

May 25 WHO statement on Saudi cases

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