MERS death toll rises as WHO confirms 2 cases

Sunday, November 17, 2013
By Paul Martin

Robert Roos
Nov 15, 2013

The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed two previously reported cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and announced two deaths.

The case in the UAE involves a 75-year-old Omani man who became ill on Oct 1, was hospitalized Oct 12, and died Nov 10, the WHO said in an e-mailed press release. His case was reported by the media Nov 7.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl reported via Twitter that the Omani patient had a history of diabetes and was a heavy smoker. He was the second Omani confirmed to have the infection, and his illness marked the sixth case reported in the UAE.

The patient in Qatar is a 61-year-old with underlying medical conditions, the WHO said. Media reports had said the man was a foreign visitor who came to the country looking for work, but the WHO agency said he was from Qatar.

The man was hospitalized Nov 7, 3 days after he got sick, and is in critical condition, the agency reported. A preliminary investigation indicates that he was exposed to farms where livestock are kept.

The WHO also said a previously confirmed case-patient from Oman has died. It gave no details, but the only other case reported in Oman so far involved a 68-year-old with diabetes who was hospitalized in Nazwa, 150 kilometers west of Muscat, the capital. His case was reported by the media on Oct 30.

The WHO’s MERS-CoV count has reached 155 cases, including 66 deaths. The agency has not yet acknowledged two cases in Kuwait that were first reported by the media 2 days ago.

In other developments, the Saudi Arabian agriculture ministry has put eight camels in confinement because initial tests suggested they may have MERS-CoV infections, according to a story today from The Peninsula, an English-language newspaper in Qatar.

Saudi officials announced earlier this week that a camel belonging to a MERS-CoV case-patient from Jeddah had tested positive for the virus, marking the first time the virus has been found in an animal.

The Peninsula story said the confined camels are owned by a Saudi, but it did not make clear whether they belong to the case-patient who owns the infected camel. The story said the camels would remain isolated until further tests are completed.

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