Thanks to Greg Folkers for sending the link to this report in Respiratory Care via PubMed.gov: Acute Management and Long-Term Survival Among Subjects With Severe Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Pneumonia and ARDS. The abstract and then a comment:
BACKGROUND: Data on the management, clinical course, and outcome of critical patients with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus are scarce. We report here our experience and long-term outcome of such patients.
METHODS: Subjects intubated for management of ARDS from Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus pneumonia and ARDS during the April-May 2014 outbreak were included. Their characteristics, ICU course, management, and outcome were evaluated.
RESULTS: Fourteen subjects, including 3 health-care workers, met study criteria. Besides 2 health-care workers, all subjects had comorbidities. Predominant symptoms were fever, cough, and dyspnea. The worst median PaO2 /FIO2 ratio of 118 post-intubation was seen on the third day, and median APACHE II score was 27. All subjects received lung-protective ventilation and 1 mg/kg/d methylprednisolone infusion for ARDS. Eleven subjects received ribavirin and peginterferon α-2a.
Subjects had a critical ICU course and required neuromuscular blockade (n = 11; 79%), required rescue therapy for respiratory failure (n = 8; 57%), developed shock (n = 10; 71%), and required renal replacement therapy (n = 8; 57%). Declining C-reactive protein levels correlated with clinical improvement despite continued positive real-time polymerase chain reaction results. Nine subjects died in ICU. Five subjects, including 3 health-care workers, were discharged from hospital and were alive after 1 y.
CONCLUSIONS: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus pneumonia with ARDS has high mortality in subjects with comorbidities. The mainstay of treatment is meticulous ARDS management. Those who survived the acute infection and its complications remained well after 1 y in our study. The role of ribavirin and interferon warrants urgent further evaluation.
Just five survivors out of 14 cases sounds alarming, and the treatments required indicate that a critical MERS patient really is desperately ill. This is one of the few Saudi-authored MERS reports I've seen in the last three years, and I hope we see many more.