Saturday, September 10, 2016

Austria Reports Imported MERS-CoV Case ex Saudi Arabia


While the Saudi MOH has reported an encouraging drop off in the number of MERS cases this summer (1 in Sept, 7 in Aug, 10 in Jul) for the second time in just 6 weeks we've word of an exported case to a non-Middle Eastern country.

In late July, Thailand received their 3rd MERS positive tourist, and today we have bare bones reports of a Saudi tourist in Salzburg who has been diagnosed with MERS.

First, a very brief announcement very near the bottom of the Austrian MOH's (BMGF: Bundesministerium für Gesundheit und Frauen) MERS webpage:

MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - Coronavirus)

Current situation in Austria

In Austria there were up to now only two imported cases, which is always a question of tourists from Arab countries.
After the first case of MERS CoV occurred in 2014 in Austria, a second confirmed case has been reported by the competent Austrian authorities on September 8, 2016 the Federal Ministry for Health and Women.

As I said, very brief.

We do slightly better at the Salzburg State level, with the following information posted on the Land Salzburg Health Department website:

Tourist in Salzburg an MERS Corona Virus erkrankt
Landessanitätsdirektion: risk of transmission from human to human low
Salzburger Landes correspondence, 09/09/2016 
(LK) in the province of Salzburg is currently being treated at a diseased MERS coronavirus Tourist from Arab stationary. He has just gone to his arrival at the destination in-patient treatment. The health authority has to protect the contacts initiated all the necessary arrangements.
The disease is transmitted mainly by camels during close and frequent contact to humans and leads primarily to diseases of the respiratory organs. A transfer from one person to another is carried out in the sequence only when close contact (droplet or smear infection). With appropriate safeguards, the risk of transmission from human to human is low. 160909_54 (lmz / grs)
Further information: Dr. Heidelinde Neumann, Landessanitätsdirektion, +43 664 608222-2310

A media report, however, fleshes out this story and we learn the patient is a 67 year old male recently arrived from Saudi Arabia.

ill Arab tourist to MERS coronavirus

In Salzburg a most MERS coronavirus diseased tourist from Saudi Arabia is currently hospitalized. The disease is transmitted mainly by dromedaries. 

16:13, 09 September 2016
The 67-year-old man from Saudi Arabia had recently traveled to his arrival at his destination in inpatient treatment. As the head of the Public Health Dept., Heidelinde Neumann, told the APA, the risk of transmission from person to person with appropriate safeguards is low.

(Continue . . .)

Since the end of July Saudi Arabia has reported only 9 local cases of MERS, yet two countries (Thailand & Austria) have reported imported cases from KSA.

While Saudis are among the most traveled people in the world, one has to wonder what the odds are that nearly 20% of Saudi's MERS cases over the past six weeks were detected while traveling to other countries. 

The alternative, of course, is that the number of MERS cases occurring inside KSA are underreported.

A possibility supported, at least in part, by a recent study (see EID Journal: Estimation of Severe MERS Cases in the Middle East, 2012–2016) that estimated surveillance was only picking up about 40% of the severe MERS cases in Saudi Arabia. 

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