Via CIDRAP, Robert Roos covers a lot of ground: WHO: 2 probable MERS cases in Spain never confirmed. Excerpt:
The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that two probable Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases reported by Spain in November were never confirmed, which means that no confirmed cases have been linked to the 2013 Hajj.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has reported a fatal case in a healthcare worker in Riyadh, apparently confirming a previous media report that a Bangladeshi doctor in that city succumbed to the disease.
In a MERS-CoV summary and literature update, the WHO said follow-up testing was unable to confirm the infection in two women, ages 61 and 50, who had traveled together from Spain to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj in October. Both women experienced febrile respiratory illnesses with evidence of pneumonia and were hospitalized, but both recovered.
At a Spanish laboratory, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays targeting one segment of the MERS-CoV genome were positive for both patients, but PCR tests targeting other segments were negative, the WHO said. An outside reference lab ran additional tests, including serologic ones, all of which were negative.
As the WHO noted, the two apparent cases raised worries about possible MERS cases related to the Hajj, which drew more than a million visitors to Saudi Arabia.
"However, other than these two unconfirmed cases, there were no other reports of Hajj-related MERS-CoV patients, despite extensive testing in nearly every country from which Hajj pilgrims originated," the WHO said. "At this point, it is clear that neither significant transmission nor exportation of MERS-CoV occurred in association with the Hajj."
The non-confirmation means that France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom are the only European countries that have had confirmed MERS cases, all of them with links to the Middle East.
Saudi case announcement
The announcement of the Saudi case came in a machine-translated statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH), posted on FluTrackers, an infectious-disease monitoring site. It said only that a 54-year-old health practitioner who was working in the Riyadh region died of MERS-CoV.
The notice appeared to confirm a Jan 17 story in Arab News, a Saudi Arabian English-language newspaper, which said that a 55-year-old Bangladeshi surgeon named Mohammed Humayun Kabeer, 55, had died of MERS. The story said he had worked at Prince Salman Hospital and died after 9 days of hospitalization.
The MOH had not posted an English-language statement about the case at this writing, but the ministry has increased its posted MERS-CoV case count by 1, to 142 cases and 58 deaths.