What ought to be routine announcement – that of another MERS death in the Middle East - is complicated by the fact that this patient appears to be the same one who was reported earlier this week to have fully recovered and been released from the hospital. Tracking of individual cases in the Middle East is admittedly difficult since no identifying information other than age – and usually their gender and location – are generally provided.
First a link and text from one of the many Arabic media reports this morning (no update on Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health website), and then a flashback to the announcement last Tuesday that their 48 year-old MERS case had recovered and been released.
The Supreme Council for the health of the country today for the death of a resident at the age of 48 years are infected with (Corona) that causes respiratory syndrome Middle East.
The Supreme Council of Health Qatar in a statement that the deceased, who did not disclose his identity had been suffering from several chronic diseases.
With this announcement toll of victims who Hsdhm virus since the beginning of his appearance to more than 67 deaths worldwide, according to statistics from the World Health Organization.
Compare this report to this announcement, lifted earlier this week from Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health website, apparently announcing this same patient’s recovery.
Doha - Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013
The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has announced Tuesday the recovery of one resident patient inflicted with MERS coronavirus and another passed away due to the same illness.
The 48-year-old first patient was admitted to hospital for three weeks to receive proper treatment. After a course of treatment, he recovered, the SCH said in a press statement.
In the same context, the SCH announces the death of 61-year old expat patient who was battling several chronic health issues and tested positive for the MERS coronavirus.
Perhaps this discrepancy comes from an error in reporting (either today, last Tuesday, or in the reported age of one of the previous cases). It’s possible, I suppose, there might be another 48-year-old MERS case we don’t know about. There are a lot of possibilities here.
When there were but a handful of cases, keeping a reasonably accurate line-listing of patients was fairly easy.
But as the number of cases has grown, and given deplorable lack of information (such as onset dates, dates of hospitalization, or dates of death) being provided by the respective Ministries of Health, the task of compiling and tracking cases has grown much harder.
No one truly believes that the (roughly) 160 MERS cases identified to date represents the full burden of the disease (see Referral: Dr. Ian Mackay On `The Slowly Growing Epidemic’ Of MERS-CoV). But these line lists have provided important information regarding the rate of new cases being detected, and their geographic spread.
At some point, if MERS cases continue to accrue, it will become impossible to keep reasonable track of individual cases. We saw that with the H1N1 Pandemic virus quite early on, and that is to be expected with any emerging disease that find success in the human population.
But when that happens we will lose an important tracking tool, one that could have been even more valuable had public health officials in the Middle East been just a little more forthcoming with epidemiological details on these early cases.