MERS-CoV Update

Researchers find possible airborne transmission of MERS-CoV


Scientists studying the possibility that dromedary camels serve as the potential animal reservoirs of MERS-CoV, say in research published in mBio, July 22, that have found that MERS-CoV RNA fragments were detected in an air sample collected from the same barn that sheltered the infected camel owned by an infected patient in their previous study.

They say the data indicates that the virus was circulating in this farm concurrently with its detection in the camel and in the patient, which warrants further investigations for the possible airborne transmission of MERS-CoV.

The researchers warns that while “current MERS-CoV transmission appears to be limited, we advise minimal contact with camels, especially for immunocompromised individuals, and the use of appropriate health, safety, and infection prevention and control measures when dealing with infected patients. Also, detailed clinical histories of any MERS-CoV cases with epidemiological and laboratory investigations carried out for any animal exposure must be considered to identify any animal source.” The report can be read here: Detection of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus genome in an air sample originating from a camel barn owned by an infected patient. mBio 5(4):e01450-14. doi:10.1128/ mBio.01450-14.


At the time of going to press the latest MERS update from the World Health Organisation (23 July 2014) states that on 12 July 2014, the National IHR Focal Point of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported to WHO an additional laboratory-confirmed case of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This is the fifth case reported in Iran – all have come from Kerman province.

The patient was a 67-year-old woman from Kerman Province. The patient had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and was admitted to a hospital on 6 June 2014 due to a COPD exacerbation. The patient was discharged on 14 June 2014 and continued treatment at home. She was in a stable condition until she developed severe acute respiratory symptoms and was readmitted to a hospital on 25 June 2014. The patient was laboratory- confirmed with MERS-CoV on 5 July 2014 and died on the same day. The patient had no history of travel and no known history of contact with animals or consumption of raw camel milk products in the 14 days prior to becoming ill. The patient did not have known contact with a previously reported MERS-CoV case. However, during her first hospitalisation, the patient had close contact with another patient with severe acute respiratory infection.

Investigation of contacts in the health care facility and family of the case is ongoing. Additionally, Saudi Arabia reported 3 deaths among previously reported MERSCoV cases. And in mid-August Saudi Arabia reported two new cases of MERS, one of them fatal, after a month-long lull in reported cases of MERS.

This brings the total in Saudi Arabia – as of 14 August – to 723 MERS-CoV cases. Of those cases, 299 have proved fatal. The World Health Organization so far has confirmed 838 MERS-CoV cases and 292 deaths.

 Date of upload: 16th Sep 2014


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