May 2014 – IRAN – Just one new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case was reported in Saudi Arabia today, while a media report said one of the first two MERS patients in Iran has died. And in other developments, US health officials said this week that in the next phase of their contact investigations sparked by the first two US MERS cases, they hope to conduct blood tests on several hundred people to look for evidence of past infection. The latest Saudi case involves a 36-year-old man who is in critical condition in a government hospital’s intensive care unit in Jeddah, the Saudi Ministry of Health said in today’s update. The man, who has diabetes and hypertension, fell ill on May 26 and was first hospitalized in Qunfudhah (also spelled Gonfodah) on May 28, before being transferred to Jeddah. The MOH gave no information about the man’s possible exposures to the virus. His case was preceded by 5 others reported in Qunfudhah in the past week, including 1 on May 22 and 4 on May 24 and 25. With just one case today, the general slowdown in Saudi Arabian cases seems to be gradually solidifying, after weeks of high daily case counts during April and early May. The country’s MERS count has now reached 569 cases, with 187 deaths. The MOH also reported that five other MERS patients were released from hospitals in Mecca, Jeddah, and Medina yesterday.
In Iran, meanwhile, one of two sisters identified as the country’s first MERS case-patients has died, while the other has been released from a hospital, according to a story from the Azerbaijan-based Trend News Agency. The two cases were reported May 26. Iran’s Tasnim news agency said the patient who died, a 53-year-old, had been treated for several days in the southeastern city of Kerman, according to the Trend story. Her sister was released from the hospital after “a few days” of treatment, the story said, citing Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, head of Iran’s Centre for Disease Control, as the information source. Another official, Ali Akbar Haghdoust, head of Kerman Medical University, said nine other people have suspected MERS-CoV infections and are being tested, according to the story. The two sisters were among four suspected case-patients in one family. –CIDRAP