The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reported a case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in a 28-year-old man from Al Ain, according to the words released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.
The patient, who is not an Emirati, gave no direct or indirect history of contact with animals such as dromedaries, goats, or sheep. Despite the absence of this common risk factor, a nasopharyngeal swab collected on 21 June 2023 was found to contain MERS-CoV by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on 23 June 2023.
Since the first case in July 2013, the UAE has confirmed 94 cases of MERS-CoV, including this latest one, and 12 related deaths with a fatality rate of 13%.
The case went to a specialized hospital with symptoms such as vomiting, right-sided pain, and dysuria between June 3 and 7. His condition deteriorated rapidly, leading to his hospitalization on June 8 with acute pancreatitis, kidney injury, and sepsis.
As his health deteriorated, he was shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the state-run hospital on June 13, where he was ventilated.
The UAE’s International Health Regulations National Focal Point (IHR NFP) carried out the follow-up efforts. It was found that the patient had no known relatives or family visitors in the UAE.
All 108 identified contacts were closely monitored for 14 days from their last known MERS-CoV patient. Fortunately, no secondary cases have been found so far.
WHO has been closely monitoring the situation since the UAE reported its first case of MERS-CoV in July 2013. Globally, the number of confirmed MERS-CoV cases reported to WHO since 2012 is 2605, including 936 deaths.
Important facts about MERS-CoV via WHO:
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) which was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
- The most common symptoms of MERS are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but MERS patients may not always have the condition. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported among MERS patients.
- About 35% of MERS cases reported to the WHO resulted in deaths.
- MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, meaning it spreads between animals and humans. MERS-CoV has been identified and linked to human disease in dromedary camels in several Member States in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
- Human-to-human transmission is possible and occurs mainly between neighbors and in healthcare settings. Outside of health care, there has been little human-to-human transmission.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment available, however several vaccines and treatments for MERS-CoV are being developed.
WHO continues to assess risks based on the latest available information, in anticipation that additional cases of MERS-CoV will be reported from the Middle East and other countries where the virus is common in dromedaries.