MERS cases Triple in Last Month and a Half


To quote a recent MedPage report by Michael Smith, the total number of cases of the Middle East coronavirus has nearly tripled in the past month and a half, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

But those cases do not include new cases reported today from Saudi Arabia, which recorded another six patients and three deaths. That brings the nation’s own totals to 520 cases with 163 deaths, up nine and three respectively. Also, it does not include the Illinois hospital worker who contracted the virus without showing signs of infection.

Saudi Arabia is followed in number of cases — although not closely — by the United Arab Emirates, which has recorded 67 cases and nine deaths, according to the ECDC. Seven other countries in the region have a total of 24 cases and 12 deaths.

Other regions — Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas — have seen a total of 19 cases and seven deaths and all patients have had primary epidemiological links to the Middle East.

The exact number of cases is a moving target and has been dogged by delays in reporting. The World Health Organization, for instance, reported Thursday it had been officially informed of just 572 laboratory-confirmed cases, with 173 deaths.

While the virus continues to cause several cases a day in Saudi Arabia, the risk for people outside the Middle East is said to be extremely low. However, 22 U.S. airports are now displaying signs that warn of the virus.

Returning travelers, the agency says, should monitor their own health and see a doctor if they have respiratory symptoms within 2 weeks of coming home. Importantly, they should call first and mention the travel history so the doctor’s office can ensure that proper precautions are taken.

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