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MERS spread in large family cluster

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arirish View Drop Down
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    Posted: July 19 2016 at 9:04am
Close contact, caregiving fueled MERS spread in large family cluster

A detailed investigation of a large family cluster of MERS in Saudi Arabia revealed that those who got sick were more likely to be older and male and have underlying health conditions, and that people who slept in infected patients' rooms and touched their respiratory secretions were more likely to become ill.

The cluster emerged in Jeddah in May 2014, with 19 of 79 family members testing positive for the virus. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their Saudi collaborators described the findings Jul 15 in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Of relatives interviewed and tested, 50 lived in the original four households, 26 were visitors, and 3 were adults from a separate branch of the family tree. Testing done as part of the outbreak response found that 11 were positive on reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and 8 were positive on serology testing. Of the 19 sick people, 11 were hospitalized and 2 died. All 26 of the visitors tested negative on the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) tests.

The researchers found that transmission didn't seem to be linked simply to proximity, but close contact and direct patient care did emerge as risk factors. Only three of the patients were women, all of them wives of sick individuals. The investigators said the low number of infected women might reflect biologic or behavioral differences, such as women socializing separately.

Initial RT-PCR tests were negative for 8 of the 19 patients while they were ill or after exposure was noted. The team said that finding suggests that serology may be more sensitive and should be considered as a testing method in future outbreak investigations.
Jul 15 Emerg Infect Dis study
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