Overnight ProMed Mail carried a brief reports on a reported fatality in Turkey from the MERS virus (see MERS-COV (38):TURKEY ex SAUDI ARABIA, FATAL, REQUEST FOR INFORMATION), with the following brief announcement:
MERS-CoV, Ankara, Turkey, New Death
MoH Turkey announced the laboratory results as MERS-Cov positive for a recently dead patient in Ankara. The Turkish-originated male patient, who was an expat in Saudi Arabia, was suffering from respiratory problems prior to his travel to Turkey on [6 Oct 2014]. The patient died in the hospital on [11 Oct 2014].
A further search of the Turkish language press finds a number of longer, albeit syntax-challenged-when-translated reports on this case. The following (machine translated) report from AVRUPA, indicates this individual was symptomatic prior to arriving on October 6th, and that efforts are underway to contact those he may have come in contact with.
Ministry of Health, the patient returned to work in Saudi Arabia, a Turkish citizen, has announced that MERS died due to virus
Turkey of the deceased passenger and crew on the plane on his entry to the official Turkish citizens to family physicians, continued efforts to inform the embassies of foreign nationals in the specified statement;
"Hatay is population registered a citizens for the purpose of work to Saudi Arabia Turkey has died in hospital receiving treatment. The Ministry of public health Authority received the patient sample Microbiology Reference Laboratory according to the result of the analysis in question have been found to carry the virus of MERS. As a result of the research work in patient s. Arabia, Turkey is the last 10 days in advance of the return of the ongoing health complaints were found to be returned to Turkey, and in the history of the 06.10.2014 of the plane after landing refers to a health institution information directly from exception is taken. He is in intensive care with severe conditions, treated the patient has lost his life in the history of the 11.10.2014. Turkey in Ankara of samples taken from the patient, institution of public health Microbiology Reference Laboratory examination of the patient is MERS-CoV 17.10.2014 (today) has been understood. ''
the statement said.
Hatay province is located on the border with civil-war wracked Syria, a region where surveillance and disease control is precarious at best.
As we’ve discussed several times over the summer, the triple threat of exported Ebola, MERS, and Avian Flu this fall and winter has the potential to severely test public health agencies around the globe. All three can present with non-descript viral symptoms early on, and all three require specific (and often difficult to obtain) lab tests in order to diagnose.
Between the rise in these emerging diseases, and the continued growth of global travel, the odds of any hospital ER in the world seeing an `exotic’ infectious disease – like MERS or Ebola – goes up a little every day.
While we are being constantly assured that MERS is under control in Saudi Arabia, this is the second exported case of the virus we’ve seen in the past few weeks (see WHO Update On Austrian (Imported) MERS Case), and Saudi Arabia has reported roughly 18 cases as well. Qatar also evacuated a citizen from KSA with MERS earlier this month (see KUNA: Qatar Announces MERS Case).
While Asia’s avian flu season has yet to take off for the fall, we are probably only a month or two away from seeing outbreaks of H7N9, and sporadic human cases of H5N1 and possibly H5N6 and H10N8.
Given the number of new subtypes that have emerged over the past couple of years in this region, seeing a new influenza virus reassortant would not be a total surprise either (see Viral Reassortants: Rocking The Cradle Of Influenza).
As we discussed in The New Normal: The Age Of Emerging Disease Threats, the reality of life in this second decade of the 21st century is that disease threats that once were local, can now spread globally in a matter of hours or days.
Vast oceans and prolonged travel times no longer protect us against infected travelers crossing borders.
And despite the media hype over airport screening, we have no technology that can realistically, or reliably detect infected individuals and prevent them from entering a country (see Head ‘Em Off At The Passenger Gate?). And if we’ve learned nothing else from the recent introduction of Ebola into the United States, it is that we have badly overestimated our ability to deal with imported disease threats.
We live in an age where emerging viral threats may subside for a few months, and fall off the newspaper headlines, but they aren’t going to go away.
We’ve been lulled into a false sense of security since the last pandemic was relatively mild, and the feeling is they only come around every 30 or 40 years. But viruses don’t read calendars, or play by `mostly likely worst-case scenario rules’ that are adopted by most planning committees.
The time has come to take pandemic planning seriously again, not so much because of Ebola, but because there’s a growing list of pathogens with pandemic potential queuing up around the globe.
For more on pandemic preparedness, you may wish to revisit: