WHO announces novel human case of MERS-CoV infection

The United Arab Emirates notified the World Health Organization on February 3 of a novel laboratory-confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus infection involving an elderly man.

The patient, a 66-year old man from Abu Dhabi with underlying medical conditions, fell ill on January 20 with an upper respiratory tract infection and was later admitted to the hospital on January 24 for pneumonia and renal failure. His samples tested positive for MERS-CoV on January 30. He is currently in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit of an Abu Dhabi hospital.

While an investigation is still underway, health officials suspect the patient may have contracted the virus from his camels in Oman. The new case of infection brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed human MERS-CoV cases to 182, including 79 deaths.

The WHO recommends that all Member States continue close surveillance of the infection and carefully observe any severe acute respiratory infections with uncommon symptoms, as these can be cases of MERS-CoV infection. The WHO asks that all healthcare facilities develop proper infection prevention and control measures against MERS-CoV to keep the spread of infection under control.

MERS-CoV infection does not always present symptoms initially, making detection of infection difficult. The WHO advises that healthcare facilities take precautions against potential spread of infection of MERS-CoV and other pathogens. Standard airborne precautions and protective eyewear are also recommended when handling suspected cases of MERS-CoV.