WHO details Saudi MERS clusters as outbreak grows

Hospital corridor
Hospital corridor

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The World Health Organization (WHO) today provided new details on three MERS-CoV clusters in Saudi Arabia involving 32 out of the 35 cases reported between Jun 1 and Jun 10. The clusters are in three different hospitals in Riyadh.

In related news, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new healthcare-related MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases in Riyadh, evidence that the outbreak is not over.

One cluster involves 23 cases

There are 23 cases associated with cluster 1, the WHO said in an update. The index case was a 47-year-old man who was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV on Jun 1. So far, 14 asymptomatic healt care worker contacts, 1 household contact, and 7 other patients in the hospital have also been diagnosed.

Cluster 2 is related to cluster 1, as the first case-patient in a second hospital initially visited the emergency room of the hospital implicated in cluster 1. According to the WHO, he was asymptomatic following the visit in hospital 1, and he continued to receive kidney dialysis sessions in the second hospital. The cluster involves the index case plus five healthcare workers and household contacts.

The third cluster is not related to clusters 1 or 2. To date four cases are associated with this hospital; the index case involves a patient who had camel contact. Three healthcare workers have also been diagnosed.

Though MERS is not easily transmitted between humans, it can spread quickly in the hospital setting, as many patients present with general respiratory illness symptoms, exposing healthcare workers and fellow patients.

Two new cases today

Meanwhile, the Saudi MOH reported two new MERS cases today, both in Riyadh. It's unknown at this time what cluster these cases belong to.

The first patient is a 53-year-old expatriate female healthcare worker. She is symptomatic and is in stable condition.

The second patient is a 58-year-old Saudi man. He contracted the disease as a patient in a hospital. He also has symptoms and is in stable condition.

With these new cases, Saudi Arabia now has 1,636 cases, including 673 deaths. Fifteen people are still being treated for the disease.

See also:

Jun 13 WHO situation report

Jun 13 Saudi MOH report

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