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MERS infects 3 more in Saudi Arabia

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    Posted: November 30 2016 at 6:49am
MERS infects 3 more in Saudi Arabia

Today Saudi Arabia's health ministry reported three new MERS-CoV infections in men who hail from different parts of the country, as the World Health Organization (WHO) provided more details on six cases reported earlier this month, two of whom had been exposed to camels or camel milk.

New cases from 3 different cities

In its daily update today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patients are all Saudi citizens who have symptoms, including a 50-year-old from Riyadh who is in critical condition, a 78-year-old from Rejal Alma in the southwestern corner of the country who is also listed as critical, and a 59-year-old from Yanbua near the western border who is in stable condition.

None of the men are healthcare workers and all had primary sources of infection, meaning they likely weren't exposed to another patient infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The new cases lift Saudi Arabia's overall total number of cases to 1,491, which includes 618 deaths. Eleven people are still being treated for their illnesses.

WHO fleshes out six recent cases

In a related development, the WHO yesterday revealed more epidemiological information about six cases reported by Saudi Arabia between Nov 3 and Nov 10, and also noted two deaths in cases covered in other recent updates.

Camel contact and consumption of raw camel milk, known MERS-CoV risk factors, were noted for two of the patients, a 53-year-old man from Alkharj and a 52-year-old man from the city of Bahrah in Makkah region. The MOH said it has notified the agriculture ministry about the camel connections and investigations are underway.

For four of the cases, authorities still don't know how the patients contracted the virus.

Illness onsets range from Oct 26 to Nov 2. Six of the patients are men, ages 52 to 94, and one of the cases involves a 58-year-old woman. Four patients are hospitalized in critical condition, and two are listed as stable.

Two patients are from Alkharj, but there is no indication of a connection between the two. Two are from Buraidah, without an apparent connection. The other patients are from Najran and Bahrah.

Tracing of household and healthcare contacts is still ongoing for the six cases, the WHO said.

Saudi Arabia also reported two more deaths from MERS-CoV, patients whose illnesses were detailed in the WHO's Nov 11 update on the disease. They include a 41-year-old Saudi man from Buraidah and 72-year-old man from Riyadh, both of whom had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized in critical condition.

Since September 2012 when the first human MERS-CoV illnesses were detected the WHO has received 1,832 reports of lab-confirmed cases, most of them from Saudi Arabia. So far at least 651 deaths have been linked to the virus'
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