Via CIDRAP, Robert Roos writes: 21 MERS cases cited in Mideast; ECDC expects more in Europe. Excerpt:
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported a total of 21 more MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases today, while the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) predicted that more exported cases are likely to crop up in Europe.
In addition, in the first word of any genetic sequencing results for recent MERS-CoV isolates, a news report in Science said that preliminary findings from analysis of one viral protein yielded no evidence of mutations. The recent spurt of cases in the Middle East has triggered much speculation about changes in the virus, among other possible causes.
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 14 new MERS cases today, with 4 deaths. Seven cases are in Jeddah, site of a healthcare-related outbreak, while four are in Riyadh and three are in Mecca, according to a computer translation of the statement, posted on Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog.
Four of the new case-patients are asymptomatic, four are in stable condition, and two are in intensive care units, the MOH said. Among the patients are four healthcare workers, all nurses, three from the Philippines and one from India.
The four patients who died were all men: an 81-year-old Palestinian, a 64-year-old Palestinian, a 30-year-old Saudi, and a 40-year-old Bangladeshi.
The MOH also announced the death of a previously reported case-patient, a 59-year-old man in Riyadh. With today's report, the MOH raised its MERS count to 313 cases with 92 deaths.
In the UAE, a report of seven new cases in Abu Dhabi today came from the Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM.
The Health Authority Abu Dhabi said the seven patients have mild or no symptoms and are isolated in a hospital, according to the brief story. It gave no other details about the cases.
The story also said eight other case-patients have now tested negative for the virus and will soon be released from a hospital where they have been kept in isolation. The story gave no total number for the current outbreak in the UAE, but it said 18 case-patients have now tested negative for the virus.
ECDC sizes up risk once again
The ECDC, in an updated risk assessment today, said it expects to see more MERS cases in Europe, but it still holds to its earlier finding that the risk for Europeans visiting or living in the Middle East is low and that secondary transmission from imported cases is low. The agency also weighed possible explanations for the recent spate of cases and concluded that there's not enough evidence to settle on any of them.
The updated assessment comes in the wake of the first case in Greece, reported a week ago in a Greek man who lives in Jeddah but was diagnosed in Athens. Cases have previously been reported in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, all with links to the Middle East.
"Given the current epidemiology on the Arabian Peninsula, it is likely that more cases will be imported and detected in [European Union] Member States," the ECDC said. "Further vigilance in assessing patients with travel history to the affected region is warranted."