MERS case count increases in Saudi Arabia

WHO reported four additional cases of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, coronavirus, in Saudi Arabia, including one death in Riyadh.

To date, there have been a total of 170 laboratory-confirmed MERS cases and 72 deaths related to the infection.

According to WHO, a 73-year-old man with pre-existing medical conditions died Dec. 18 in Riyadh, 3 days after he was hospitalized. Health officials reported that the man had contact with animals but no travel history.

Two of the most recent cases included female health care workers who reported no symptoms. The fourth case is 53-year-old man from Riyadh who also had pre-existing medical conditions. The patient was hospitalized Nov. 26, and is currently being treated at an intensive care unit. The man was not exposed to animals and did not travel outside of Riyadh, but he did have contact with another MERS case.

WHO currently does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions as a result of the outbreak, but it does encourage providers to maintain vigilance and test any patients who have recently returned from the Middle East and developed respiratory infections.