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Saudis announce 2 more MERS cases

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    Posted: November 09 2014 at 6:31pm
Saudis announce 2 more MERS cases, education campaign

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued yet another update to its recent flurry of MERS-CoV case reports, adding two more cases today, bringing the country's total to 798.

The new case-patients are a 45-year-old man from Riyadh and a 49-year-old man from Jeddah. Neither is a healthcare worker and neither had known contact with a suspected or confirmed MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patient in the hospital.

The Riyadh man, who had preexisting disease, did have contact with a MERS patient in the community. The Jeddah man is currently listed as being in critical condition and his animal exposure status is listed as "under investigation" in the report.

Also, the MOH in a press release today announced the launch of a public information campaign in the city of Taif, site of numerous cases in the country's recent MERS-CoV spike. Medical professionals at various locations will educate the public on the "crucial role of the community in preventing the spread of the disease," says the release.

The campaign will focus on alerting individuals to the importance of avoiding unprotected exposures to camels and to properly boiling/cooking camel milk and meat before ingestion. The release said that, of 38 Saudi MERS cases since Sep 5, nearly a third have had camel contact.
Nov 7 MOH update

Iranian MERS cluster showed evidence of person-to-person spread

Another MERS study in EID published Nov 5 involved a cluster of five cases in Iran from May to July 2014 and demonstrated likely person-to-person spread in four of the patients.

The authors, from Tehran University and the Iranian Center for Communicable Disease Control, tested 1,800 patients with respiratory illness from January 2013 through August 2014 for MERS-CoV.

The cluster, which occurred in Kerman province, involved a woman who had contact with an ill friend who had traveled to Saudi Arabia but had incomplete testing for MERS-CoV. It also included the woman's sister, a nurse and a physician who had contact with the initial case in the intensive care unit, and a patient at the hospital who was admitted after the two women were gone (the first patient died, and her sister was discharged).

None of the cluster patients had traveled or had contact with animals in the 14 days prior to illness onset.

The authors say person-to-person transmission is likely responsible for the first four cases but that the route of transmission for the last is unclear. They conclude, "Future research should focus on clarifying routes of transmission for this virus, including the possibility of transmission from persons with subclinical infection."
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