A case of the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in the UAE last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed. According to the international agency, a 28-year-old male resident of Al Ain contracted the virus late June.
He was admitted to a hospital after experiencing a wide range of symptoms including vomiting, right flank pain, and dysuria. On June 13, he was shifted to an intensive care unit as his health deteriorated. On June 21, a nasopharyngeal swab was collected to rule out the presence of a virus. Two days later, it was confirmed that the unnamed man had been infected by the MERS-CoV.
After the confirmation, health authorities monitored the condition of 108 people who the man came in contact with. However, the virus did not infect the others. According to the WHO, the man neither possessed any co-morbidities, nor came in close contact with an infected individual.
Furthermore, he did not travel outside the United Arab Emirates. “The case had no history of direct or indirect contact with dromedaries, goats, or sheep. The patient was admitted to the hospital on June 8. A nasopharyngeal swab was collected on June 21 and tested positive for MERS-CoV by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on June 23,” the WHO said, adding that the patient was a “non-Emirati and a non-healthcare worker”. The case was reported by the UAE's International Health Regulations National Focal Point (IHR NFP) to the WHO on July 10.
WHO to monitor the situation
The WHO said that it "expects more cases" of the potentially MERS-CoV to be detected in the region. In the wake of the new infection, the WHO assured that it will continue to monitor the situation in the UAE, which has witnessed a total of 94 confirmed cases and 12 deaths of the virus since July 2013. The agency also urged middle eastern authorities to report immediately if further cases emerge. It also called for countries to boost surveillance for such acute respiratory infections and "carefully review any unusual patterns."
Across the world, 2605 cases and 936 related deaths have occurred due to MERS-CoV since the year 2012.
What is MERS-CoV?
A zoonotic virus, MERS-CoV is transmitted between animals and humans. According to studies, humans can contract the disease through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels. However, in this particular case, the WHO ruled out animal transmission.
Humans down with MERS-CoV can experience a string of symptoms, such as diarrhoea, shortness of breath, fever, coughing, and pneumonia. So far, there is no definite treatment to eradicate the virus. “Several MERS-CoV-specific vaccines and treatments are in development," the WHO said.