MERS Virus Kills One In UAE, Infects Family

A 32-year-old woman in Abu Dhabi infected with the virus has died; her husband and son are also diagnosed with MERS.



A 32-year-old Jordanian woman in Abu Dhabi diagnosed with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has died, Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) confirmed.

The woman’s family – her 38-year-old husband and eight-year-old son are also diagnosed with the virus, but HAAD said that they are both currently in a stable condition and are receiving the required care.

The patients were infected with the disease on November 15, 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a disease update.

They had no travel history, no contact with a known confirmed case and no history of contact with animals, confirmed WHO.

While hospitalised for the illness, the mother also gave birth to a newborn child. The newborn, other close family contacts and healthcare staff are being monitored for signs of MERS, the organisation said.

Two previously laboratory-confirmed cases from Qatar also died on November 19 and 29, 2013, said WHO.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 163 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 71 deaths.

Patients diagnosed have had respiratory disease as their primary illness, WHO said. Diarrhoea is commonly reported among the patients and severe complications include renal failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with shock.

The organisation also warned that people at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating.

“For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to,” it said.

However, it added: “WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.”

So far, the cases of the virus have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.

The organisation has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to advise the Director-General on the status of the current situation.