The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported four additional confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) -- two of them in healthcare workers in Saudi Arabia.
WHO reported the cases on 27 December, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed infections to 170 since the disease was first identified in September 2012. There have been 72 deaths related to MERS, which is caused by the MERS-CoV coronavirus.
The two female healthcare workers are from Riyadh and have not reported any symptoms. The third case is a 53-year-old man from Riyadh with underlying chronic disease, who was hospitalized on 26 November and is currently being treated in an intensive care unit. He had no exposure to animals and no travel history outside the Riyadh region, but he had been in contact with a confirmed case of MERS.
The fourth patient was a 73-year-old man from Riyadh with underlying chronic disease who died on 18 December, three days after being hospitalized. He had exposure to animals but no history of travel.
WHO is reminding healthcare facilities of the importance of proper infection prevention and control procedures. Healthcare sites that care for patients with suspected or confirmed MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission to other patients, healthcare workers, and visitors.