From 17 September through 15 October 2018, the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) National Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported eight additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including three deaths.
Of the eight cases reported, three were hospital contacts from one hospital in Dammam and two were household contacts in Riyadh.
From 2012 through 15 October 2018, the total global number of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases reported to WHO is 2262 with 803 associated deaths.
Key facts about MERS:
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
- Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported. Some laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection are reported as asymptomatic, meaning that they do not have any clinical symptoms, yet they are positive for MERS following a laboratory test. Most of these asymptomatic cases have been detected following aggressive contact tracing of a laboratory-confirmed case.
- Approximately 35% of reported patients with MERS have died.
- Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections in health care settings, current scientific evidence suggests that dromedary camels are a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans. However, the exact role of dromedaries in transmission of the virus and the exact route(s) of transmission are unknown.
- The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as occurs when providing unprotected care to a patient. Health care associated outbreaks have occurred in several countries, with the largest outbreaks seen in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Korea.