SAUDI ARABIA—The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the existence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh, Eastern, and Qassim regions.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

This follows a report of four laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath between September 15, 2023, and October 26, 2023, with two deaths on October 19, 2023, and December 24, 2023.

The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reported the cases to WHO between August 13, 2023, and February 1, 2024, with the latest case recorded on October 26, 2023.

However, when the Ministry of Health followed up with the four victims’ close contacts, no secondary cases were found.

All four instances had co-morbidities, and none were health care workers. Two of the patients were male and two were female, with ages ranging from 59 to 93.

Of the four cases, one was a camel owner, and another had a history of indirect interaction with dromedary camels since their family members kept them.

One of the four cases was a camel owner, while another had a history of indirect exposure to dromedary camels since their family members had camels.

The other two cases had no apparent history of exposure to established risk factors, and none had consumed raw camel milk in the 14 days preceding the onset of symptoms. There are no established epidemiological linkages between the instances.

According to the WHO, the notification of these four instances has no effect on the overall risk assessment, which remains moderate at both the global and regional levels, as the four additional cases are thought to have been acquired locally and not transferred further.

Since the initial MERS-CoV report in Saudi Arabia in 2012, there have been 2200 confirmed human cases, with 858 deaths recorded.

Saudi Arabia has documented over 80% of human cases, the majority of which are the consequence of direct or indirect contact with diseased dromedary camels or infected persons in healthcare facilities.

MERS-CoV infects humans through direct or indirect contact with dromedary camels, the virus’s natural host and zoonotic source. MERS-CoV has also shown the ability to spread between humans.

Human-to-human transmission of MERS-CoV in health care settings has been linked to delays in detecting early symptoms of infection, delayed triage of suspected cases, and delayed implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures.

IPC precautions are crucial for preventing the spread of MERS-CoV among patients in health care institutions. Health care providers should always use standard precautions with all patients, at all times in health care environments.

There is presently no vaccination or therapy for MERS-CoV; however, numerous vaccines and treatments are in development.

Treatment is supportive and tailored to the patient’s clinical status and symptoms.

The reporting of these cases highlights the importance of raising worldwide awareness of MERS-CoV, as the virus continues to represent a threat in countries where it is circulating in dromedary camels, particularly those in the Middle East.

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