Fatal MERS-CoV Cases Continue in 2023
While the world focused on one type of coronavirus for four years, another sub-type continues to impact people.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently notified World Health Organization (WHO) of a case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Al Ain City in Abu Dhabi.
This is the UAE's 94th confirmed MERS case and 12th death since July 2013, which indicates this viral respiratory infection has a Case Fatality Ratio of no less than 13%.
According to the WHO's Disease Outbreak News on July 24, 2023, this MERS-CoV case had no history of direct or indirect contact with dromedaries, goats, or sheep.
And this case has no known co-morbidities, no history of contact with MERS-CoV human cases, and no recent travel outside the UAE.
Furthermore, all identified contacts have been monitored for 14 days from the last date of exposure to the MERS-CoV patient, and no secondary case was identified.
So far, non-sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts and in healthcare settings. The WHO says there has been limited human-to-human transmission outside the healthcare setting.
Moreover, the notification of this MERS case does not change the WHO's overall risk assessment.
The WHO expects that additional cases of MERS-CoV infection will be reported from the Middle East and/or other countries where MERS-CoV is circulating in dromedaries and that patients will continue to be exported to other countries by individuals who were exposed to the virus through contact with dromedaries or their products (for example, consumption of camel's raw milk), or in a healthcare setting.
Globally, the total number of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases reported since 2012 is 2,605, including 936 associated deaths as of July 2023.
An importation of MERS into the Republic of Korea in 2015 led to the largest outbreak outside of the Middle East. By the outbreak's end, 186 laboratory-confirmed cases (185 in the Republic of Korea and 1 in China) and 38 deaths had been recorded.
Although several MERS-CoV-specific vaccines and treatments are developing, no vaccine or specific treatment is currently available.