Friday, July 24, 2015

WHO MERS Update – Saudi Arabia July 24th

Saudi Region

 

#10,354

 

The World Health Organization has published a DON update describing 6 recent MERS cases in Saudi Arabia reported during the first two weeks of July. All but one (age 35) are over the age of 55 and are listed as having co-morbidities.

 

Four of these six cases are described as having a history of `frequent contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk’, while potential exposure risks for the other two are under investigation.   

 

Although camels are known to carry and shed the MERS-CoV virus (see Back To The Camel `Shed’), and are believed responsible for `reseeding’  the virus repeatedly back into the human community, it isn’t exactly clear how many human cases are actually due to direct exposure to camels and/or camel products.

 

The risks are deemed high enough, however, that we’ve seen the  KSA MOH Reiterate Camel Warnings On MERS, urging breeders and owners to limit their contact with camels, and to use PPEs (masks, gloves, protective clothing) when in close contact with their animals. And the public is reminded to:

 

  • Avoid contact with camels, especially if they are sick, and their body fluids secretions.
  • If you must be in contact with camels, wear a disposable mask over your mouth and nose, gloves, and a protective medical gown.
  • Boil fresh camel milk, if not pasteurized.
  • Cook camel meat (including liver) well before consumption.

 

All of this has been a tough sell for many Saudis, as the idea that camels – a beloved national symbol that literally made settlement of that arid region possible – could carry a disease deadly to humans, is all but unthinkable.   A concept made even harder to accept due to the widespread belief in the healthful effects of camel’s milk and urine in the treatment of disease.


While it is not certain that all four of these cases with camel exposure were infected that way, this is a good reminder to citizens and tourists alike to heed the public health advice given above, and limit contact with camels.  

 

It also strongly suggests that until MERS-CoV can be addressed at its animal-human interface (camels), this is an infectious disease threat that is unlikely to go away on its own.

 

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Disease outbreak news
24 July 2015

Between 1 and 14 July 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 6 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

Details of the cases are as follows:
  1. A 60-year-old, female from Alqahmah city developed symptoms on 5 July and was admitted to a hospital in Jeddah on 9 July. The patient, who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 11 July. She has a history of frequent contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk. Currently, the patient is in stable condition in a negative pressure isolation room on a ward.
  2. A 77-year-old male from Jeddah city developed symptoms on 27 June and was admitted to hospital on 6 July. The patient, who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 11 July. He has a history of frequent contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk. Currently, the patient is in critical condition in ICU.
  3. A 35-year-old, non-national male from Turubah city developed symptoms on 28 June and was admitted to hospital on 1 July. The patient, who has no comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 2 July. He has a history of frequent contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk. Currently, the patient is in stable condition in a negative pressure isolation room on a ward.
  4. A 76-year-old male from Riyadh city developed symptoms on 17 June and was admitted to hospital on 21 June. The patient, who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 30 June. Currently, he is in critical condition admitted to ICU on mechanical ventilation. Investigation of history of exposure to known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms is ongoing.
  5. A 60-year-old male from Nairyah city developed symptoms on 28 June and was admitted to hospital on 29 June. The patient, who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 1 July. He has a history of contact with the camels owned by one of his family members. Currently, the patient is in stable condition in a negative pressure isolation room on a ward.
  6. A 56-year-old female from Riyadh city developed symptoms on 23 June and was admitted to hospital on 28 June. The patient, who has comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 30 June. Currently, she is in stable condition in a negative pressure isolation room on a ward. Investigation of history of exposure to known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms is ongoing.

Contact tracing of household and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.

Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1,374 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 490 related deaths.

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