Qatar’s proximity to Saudi Arabia
On October 12th Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) announced the evacuation from Saudi Arabia of a 71 year-old Qatari citizen who had contracted the MERS-CoV infection (see KUNA: Qatar Announces MERS Case).
Today the SCH reported a second case for 2014, and despite its length, it doesn’t tell us very much about the patient, or how the patient might have contracted the virus, although some kind of contact with camels is intimated.
We also get a brief update on the first case, who appears to be recovering. First the report, then I’ll be back with a bit more:
New Corona Virus case has been reported
- Publication Date: 22 October 2014
The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has announced that a new “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) case has been reported for Qatari patient aged 43 years old. The patient have had fever for few days and was transported by ambulance to the Emergency Department at Hamad General Hospital. Upon assessment and laboratory investigations, the patient was diagnosed with pneumonia and subsequently confirmed as MERS-CoV case.
As soon as the Health protection Rapid Response Team got the notification, a series of standard investigation and contact tracing steps were implemented. These include verifying whether contacts have any symptoms and specimen collected. However, all contacts would be monitored for two weeks. Within the same framework, a joint team from human Health and animal resources started investigation process involving camels and individuals in contact with them for specimen collection and follow up.
On the other hand, medical follow up reports indicated that the previous case diagnosed with MERS-CoV is improving and now is stable. He is still under the standardized infection prevention and control measures. In addition, all of his contacts were tested negative for MERS-CoV and none has developed any similar symptoms so far.
SCH has alerted all healthcare providers in the country to stay alerted and report any suspected case and urging all healthcare workers to strictly abide to the infection prevention and control measures. SCH will continue to stress on the importance of epidemiological surveillance, case management and isolation with infection prevention and control, with the enhanced implementation, and health education on preventive measures recommended so far.
The SCH urges all society member to follow the recommended infection prevention and control measures such as keeping away from getting in close proximity with the camels especially those with weak immune system, or having any long standing medical condition whenever they had to visit farms and camel barns. The public who might be visiting a farm or camel barn should comply with the standard personal hygiene and hand washing before and after handling camel with staying away from sick animals.
Among countries on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar ranks 4th in the number of reported MERS cases (n=9), making up less than 1% of all cases reported since 2012. Fully 85% of all cases worldwide have been reported out of Saudi Arabia.
Credit ECDC MERS Update – Oct 22nd
Although the camel connection to MERS was initially disputed in Saudi Arabia (see Saudi MOA Spokesman: Camel Link Unproven), the Saudi MOH now seems fully onboard with the idea that camels are likely responsible for the continual re-introduction of the virus into the human population.
Last September we saw the KSA MOH Reiterates Camel Warnings On MERS. While the exact role of camels in the transmission of MERS to humans has yet to be established, evidence continues to mount that pegs camels as a likely source of human infection (see EID Journal: Replication & Shedding Of MERS-CoV In Inoculated Camels).
Once introduced into the human population, the virus is capable of limited forward transmission – and based on clustering of cases to date – seems to do so best in a hospital setting. There also appears to be a seasonal component to these outbreaks, with the bulk of cases appearing in late winter and into the spring.
For now, the virus does not appear to spread among humans in an efficient and sustained manner.
The ECDC, in their most recent MERS update, indicate we may be set to see another increase in MERS cases.
• The incidence of cases in September and October 2014 is slightly higher than in July and August 2014. This pattern was also observed in 2012 and 2013. The majority of MERS-CoV cases are still being reported from the Arabian Peninsula, specifically from Saudi Arabia, and all cases have epidemiological links to the outbreak epicentre.
• According to the pattern observed in 2012 and 2013, more cases could be observed in the coming weeks.
• The latest importation to the EU (Austria) and to Turkey are not unexpected and do not indicate a significant change in the epidemiology of the disease. Importation of MERS-CoV cases to the EU remains possible. However, the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission remains very low in Europe.