Saudi Arabia reports another MERS Case from Taif, which has been the focus of nearly half of the MERS cases reported over the past couple of months. This time it involves a 70 year old female, source of infection still unknown.
While camels are believed responsible for introducing the virus to humans, once someone is infected they are able to spread the virus on to others, albeit not with great efficiency. We’ve seen clusters occur in family settings, and even more often linked to healthcare facilities.
Earlier this week the MOH released the following statement concerning a joint WHO/CDC/Saudi ongoing investigation into the outbreak of MERS in Taif.
03 December 2014
His Excellency Eng. Adel Fakeih, the acting Minister of Health, hosted a meeting recently on the response to MERS-CoV with visiting experts from the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Hassan El Bushra, the WHO’s representative in Saudi Arabia, was joined by three experts from the CDC who spent a week investigating a cluster of MERS-CoV cases in Taif. The experts, who specialize in epidemiology and outbreak investigation, have been advising the Ministry’s Command & Control Center (CCC) on efforts to reduce the risk of infection with this deadly virus, which is thought to be initially transmitted to humans through unprotected contact with camels. Some human to human transmission in healthcare settings has also occurred.
“There was no evidence of widespread community transmission,” said a CDC expert. “We connected the dots on most of the cases to three or four primary cases.”
He recommended that the Ministry continue its rigorous surveillance and infection prevention and control activities in Taif. “Proper infection control procedures are in place,” a CDC expert said. “It’s a matter of continuing those activities and remaining vigilant because there will be more primary cases.”
International collaboration is a hallmark of the preparedness efforts that have been undertaken within the CCC since it was established as the Ministry’s emergency response unit. Outside experts from WHO and CDC have participated in internal meetings and shared international best practices with the Saudi clinicians and public-health experts who are managing the response to MERS-CoV and preparing for other infectious diseases, such as Ebola virus disease.
They were an integral part of the Ministry’s onsite team during the successful Hajj 1435.
Such partnerships, which include a number of top researchers from Saudi universities, have greatly enhanced the Kingdom’s ability to respond to MERS-CoV. In addition to supporting the rigorous training that has contributed to a sharp reduction in the number of secondary MERS-CoV infections involving healthcare workers, WHO and CDC are working with the Ministry to investigate why there was a dramatic increase in MERS-CoV cases last month in Taif.
There have been 805 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia since June 2012, resulting in 342 deaths.
To prevent infection with this virus in healthcare facilities, the Ministry has embarked on a comprehensive infection-prevention program across the Kingdom that includes new training and procedures as well as updated facilities and equipment.
The Ministry recommends avoiding contact with camels. Anyone who comes in close contact with camels should wear a disposable mask, gloves and a face mask to reduce the risk of infection. No one should consume raw camel meat or raw camel milk.
Visit the CCC website to learn more about MERS-CoV and how to reduce the risk of infection. http://www.moh.gov.sa/en/CCC/Pages/default.aspx