The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported a confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in a 28-year-old male from Al Ain city, according to a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO) Monday.
The patient, a non-Emirati national, presented no direct or indirect history of contact with animals such as dromedaries, goats, or sheep. Despite the absence of this common risk factor, the nasopharyngeal swab collected on 21 June 2023 tested positive for MERS-CoV by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on 23 June 2023.
Since the first reported case in July 2013, the UAE has confirmed a total of 94 MERS-CoV cases, including this latest one, and 12 associated deaths with a case-fatality ratio of 13%.
The case under study visited a private medical center with symptoms including vomiting, right flank pain, and dysuria between June 3 and 7. His condition rapidly deteriorated, leading to hospitalization on June 8 with a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis, acute kidney injury, and sepsis.
Following the deterioration of his health, the patient was transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) at a specialized government tertiary hospital on June 13, where he was put on mechanical ventilation.
The UAE’s International Health Regulations National Focal Point (IHR NFP) carried out a thorough contact tracing exercise. It was found that the patient had no known family members or household contacts in the UAE.
All 108 identified contacts were closely monitored for 14 days from their last date of exposure to the MERS-CoV patient. Thankfully, no secondary cases have been detected to date.
WHO has been closely monitoring the situation since the UAE reported its first MERS-CoV case in July 2013. Globally, the total number of confirmed MERS-CoV cases reported to WHO since 2012 is 2605, including 936 associated deaths.
Key Facts on MERS-CoV via WHO:
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (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) and Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
- Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but MERS patients may not always develop this condition. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported among MERS patients.
- Approximately 35% of MERS cases reported to WHO have died.
- MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, meaning it is transmitted between animals and people. MERS-CoV has been identified and linked to human infections in dromedary camels in several Member States in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
- Human-to-human transmission is possible and has occurred predominantly among close contacts and in health care settings. Outside the health care setting, there has been limited human-to-human transmission.
No vaccine or specific treatment are currently available, however several MERS-CoV specific vaccines and treatments are in clinical development.
WHO continues to conduct risk assessments based on the latest available information, anticipating that additional cases of MERS-CoV infection will be reported from the Middle East and other countries where the virus is prevalent in dromedaries.