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Saudi MERS cases continue

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    Posted: December 03 2014 at 5:00pm
Saudi Arabia reports two more MERS cases, one fatal

A fairly steady trickle of MERS-CoV cases in Saudi Arabia continued today with a report of two more, one of them fatal.

One case is in a 71-year-old man in Riyadh who is in critical condition and has a preexisting disease, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH). He is not a healthcare worker and had no exposure to animals, and authorities are investigating whether he had contact with other MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patients.

The fatal case involved a 52-year-old Saudi man in Bruidah, which is northwest of Riyadh. He had a preexisting disease, was not a health worker, and had no contact with animals or other MERS patients, the MOH said.

The two cases raise Saudi Arabia's MERS tally to 817, with 351 deaths and 9 patients still being treated, the agency said.
Dec 3 MOH statement

In other developments, researchers found no evidence of MERS-CoV antibodies in serum samples collected in July 2012 from 300 animal workers, 17% of whom had daily exposure to camels, according to a study today in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. The samples were gathered about the time the first MERS cases were identified.

The team used a pseudoparticle MERS-CoV spike protein neutralization assay to test the 300 animal workers as well as 50 controls who had no animal exposure; none of the samples reacted with the protein.

Since MERS-CoV has been found in camels and they are regarded as a likely reservoir for the virus, the results were surprising, the authors said, but they note that several other recent studies failed to find MERS-CoV antibodies in groups exposed to domestic animals.

They suggest several possible explanations for the findings: Other mammals may serve as vehicles to carry MERS-CoV from camels to humans, the virus may provoke weak or transient immunity following mild infection, only a subset of humans may be predisposed to MERS-CoV infection, or the virus was only beginning to adapt to human hosts in 2012.
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