Since September 2012, cases of infection with MERS-CoV have claimed 58 lives.The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported six new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia, raising the global number of infections to 136. On Friday, the WHO said it had been informed of six laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV.
“The six new patients are from Riyadh region with ages from 14 to 79 years old, of which three are women and three men,” said the report by WHO.Out of the six patients, whose dates of onset ranged from September 15 to 26, one had mild symptoms while the other five were hospitalized. “Three patients are contacts of previously confirmed cases with MERS-CoV, two are reported to have had no exposure to animals or a confirmed case, and there is no information on exposure of one patient,” the report added. Since September 2012, cases of infection with MERS-CoV have claimed 58 lives. MERS is a cousin of SARS. The virus first emerged in the Middle East, and was discovered in September 2012 in a Qatari man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia. The virus, which causes coughing, fever and pneumonia, does not appear to be as contagious as SARS, which killed some 800 people in a 2003 epidemic. In addition to Saudi Arabia, MERS has been reported in the Persian Gulf countries, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain. Scientists say dromedary camels in some parts of the Middle East may be fuelling the outbreak in humans by acting as animal reservoir. While no travel restrictions have been announced, the WHO has urged health authorities across the world to maintain vigilance. “Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations,” the report noted. NT/AB/MHB