Health worker among 5 new Saudi MERS cases

Saudi Arabia reported five new MERS-CoV cases over the past 2 days, one of them fatal, and three of the illnesses appear to be linked to a healthcare-related cluster in Dumah Al Jandal in the country's northwest.

One of the other two patients had indirect contact with camels and another had primary exposure to the virus, reflecting a mix of ways people contract Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.

Health worker, household contacts among latest cases

In its regular update yesterday, Saudi Arabia's ministry of health (MOH) reported two new cases, one of which involves a 25-year-old female healthcare worker in Dumah Al Jandal who has an asymptomatic infection. The woman, who is an expat, acquired her infection in the healthcare setting, the MOH said.

So far it's unclear if her illness is related to another MERS-CoV case reported from the same city on Aug 2, that one in a 51-year-old man who was hospitalized in critical condition. An investigation revealed the man had primary exposure, meaning he probably didn't contract it from another patient.

Today the MOH reported two more cases from Dumah Al Jandal, both of them Saudi boys who are listed as household contacts of an earlier confirmed case. One is a 16-year-old who has symptoms and the other is a 12-year-old who is asymptomatic.

Other cases include a fatality

In its report yesterday, the Saudi MOH reported a fatal case involving a 38-year-old Saudi man from Najran in the far south of the country. The patient had an underlying health condition and had primary exposure to MERS-CoV.

In today's update, the MOH said an infection has also been confirmed in a 50-year-old Saudi man from Hayel in north central Saudi Arabia. The man's condition is listed as critical, and authorities say the source of the virus was indirect contact with camels.

The new illnesses and deaths lift Saudi Arabia's overall MERS-CoV total to 1,698 cases, 686 of them fatal. Nine people are still being treated for their infections.

Riyadh hospital outbreaks over

In its monthly update recapping MERS-CoV activity in the previous month, the World Health Organization's Eastern Mediterranean regional office (WHO EMRO) said that for July, six lab-confirmed cases were reported, five from Saudi Arabia and one from the United Arab Emirates. Three of the infections were fatal.

No new healthcare-related illnesses or additional hospital outbreaks were reported in July. In the three earlier-reported Riyadh hospital outbreaks, the latest case was confirmed on Jun 17. Now that more than two incubation periods have passed, officials said the outbreaks are now considered to be over.

So far the demographics of cases reported in 2017 don't show a change from cases reported since 2012 when the virus was detected for the first time in humans. Adults ages 50 to 59 are still most at risk for contracting primary infections, with those ages 30 to 39 most at risk for secondary infections. For deaths after primary exposure, the risk is highest in adults ages 50 to 59, and fatalities in secondary exposure are highest in older adults, those ages 70 to 79.

Due to improvements in infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, the number of hospital-related cases declined significantly in 2015 and 2016, the WHO said.

Globally, as of the end of July, the WHO had received reports of 2,045 MERS-CoV cases, 773 of them fatal, for a case-fatality rate of 35.8%.

See also:

Aug 6 Saudi MOH update

Aug 7 Saudi MOH update

Aug 2 CIDRAP News scan "Saudi Ministry of Health confirms 3 new MERS cases"

July 2017 WHO EMRO MERS-CoV situation update

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