A 28-year-old expat in Al Ain had tested positive following a PCR done in June

Mers-CoV case discovered in Abu Dhabi

Mers-CoV case discovered in Abu Dhabi

Published: Tue 25 Jul 2023, 12:56 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Jul 2023, 10:06 PM

A case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV) was detected last month in Abu Dhabi’s Al Ain, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A 28-year-old expat had tested positive following a PCR done in June. Meanwhile, the UN health agency pointed out that all 108 identified contacts were monitored for 2 weeks from the last date of exposure to the infected patient, and no secondary cases were detected.

Cases of Mers-CoV infection are rare in the UAE. Since July 2013, a total of 94 cases, including the new one, and 12 deaths have been reported.

The WHO underlined that the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) has “strengthened surveillance activities” to identify possible cases and conducted several workshops to create awareness.

In the wake of recent development, Khaleej Times explains this viral disease, its symptoms, and precautionary measures.

What is Mers virus?

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) is a viral respiratory infection of humans and dromedary camels, which is caused by a coronavirus called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV). It can cause severe illness in humans resulting in high mortality. According to the WHO, approximately 35 per cent of infected patients have not survived.

How do you get infected?

Mers-CoV is a zoonotic virus. According to the WHO, humans can get infected from direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels, although the exact route of transmission remains unclear. The latest case reported in Al Ain had no history of direct or indirect contact with dromedaries, goats, or sheep. Meanwhile, human-to-human transmission is possible and has occurred predominantly among close contacts and in healthcare settings. This includes family and household members, healthcare workers and other patients.

What are the symptoms?

The infections range from asymptomatic or mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease and death. A typical presentation of a person with Mers-CoV is fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is a common finding, but may not always be the case. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported. Older people, people with weakened immune systems, and those with chronic diseases such as renal disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes appear to be at greater risk of developing severe disease. Severe illness can cause respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation and support in an intensive care unit.

What is the available treatment?

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. Although, several Mers-CoV-specific vaccines and treatments are in clinical development. Treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.

What precautions can be taken?

According to the WHO, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns, or other places where dromedary camels and other animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and should avoid contact with sick animals.

The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, including milk and meat, carries a high risk of infection from a variety of pathogens that may cause disease in humans.

Animal products that are processed appropriately through cooking or pasteurisation are safe for consumption but should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods. Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurisation, cooking, or other heat treatments

Genomic analysis of the latest case

To find the genetic evolution of the virus in the latest case, the WHO has started the process of genomic analysis.

“Given that this latest case presents with severe disease but has no comorbidities and no exposure history to camels, camel raw products or Mers-CoV human case, it will be important to sequence the virus and conduct genomic analysis to screen for any unusual patterns. The process for genomic analysis has begun. This will identify any genetic evolution of the virus and support WHO’s global risk assessment efforts,” the WHO said.


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