With the Hajj upon us, and more than two million religious pilgrims in Saudi Arabia this morn, over the past three weeks we’ve been following the slow uptick in MERS reports out of Saudi Arabia (including one exported case to Austria) with particular interest.
Today the World Health Organization has issued the following update, indicating that a fair number of these recent cases appear to have had significant camel and/or camel product contact. Additionally, at least five cases were described as being healthcare workers or working in a healthcare setting.
Disease outbreak news
2 October 2014
The National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia has reported additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to WHO.
Between 11 August and 28 September 2014, 15 cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) including 4 deaths were reported to WHO.
During September 2014, Saudi Arabia reported 11 MERS-CoV cases, including 2 deaths, from Taif (5), Riyadh (3), Najran (1), Jubail (1) and Raniah (1). The median age of the 11 cases is 43 years old (ranging from 27 to 76 years old) and 10 (91%) are men. Six cases (55%) suffered 1 or more co-morbidities, 2 (18%) reported contact with animals (e.g. sheep or camel) or the consumption of raw camel milk, and 4 (36%) are reported as healthcare workers or work in healthcare settings.
In August 2014, Saudi Arabia reported 4 MERS-CoV cases, including 2 deaths, from Jubail (2) Riyadh (1), Najran (1). The median age of the 4 cases is 64 years old (ranging from 34 to 72 years old) and all (100%) are men. Three cases (75%) suffered 1 or more co-morbidities, 2 (50%) reported contact with animals or the consumption of raw camel milk, and 1 case (25%) is a healthcare worker.
The National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia also notified WHO of the death of 4 MERS-CoV cases previously reported to WHO in June and July 2014. The National IHR Focal Point of Greece has also notified WHO of the death of the Greek patient who had been receiving treatment for MERS-CoV infection in Greece, and was previously reported to WHO.
The total numbers of globally reported cases and deaths have also been updated taking into consideration a review of cases by Member States. Globally, 852 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 301 related deaths have been reported to WHO.
With the annual pilgrimage of Hajj underway, WHO encourages Member States to review WHO’s travel advice on MERS-CoV for pilgrimages, published in June 2014.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.