The World Health Organization announced on March 18 that two people were recently infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.
Since September 2012, WHO has been informed of 198 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV. The number of MERS-CoV deaths has increased to 84.
The Kuwait patient was a 60-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital on Feb.13 and died on March 6. He had underlying medical conditions.
A 68-year-old man in UAE showed symptoms on March 7 and was admitted to the hospital on March 11 with an injury to his finger. The hospital confirmed MERS-CoV on March 17. The patient has mild symptoms and underlying medical conditions.
An investigation showed the UAE patient returned from Saudi Arabia, where he travels regularly for work, five days before becoming ill.
WHO said all member states should continue surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections and review unusual patterns.
Diagnosing the infection early is not always possible due to mild or unusual symptoms. WHO recommended special control measures to prevent the spread of MERS-CoV in health care facilities, including droplet, contact and airborne precautions. Repeat tests are recommended if the swab test results in a negative finding.
The respiratory illness can be difficult to diagnose due to mild symptoms or atypical illness. Travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV.