Two MERS deaths in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has reported that two people have died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the south of the country.

Of the two victims one was a man in his 60s from Mahayil Asir while the other was a man in his 70s.

The World Health Organisation confirmed that Saudi Arabia reported 10 additional MERS cases in the period 6 – 13 December, including two deaths.

They cases include a 72 year old man in Taif city, a 64 year old woman in Buridah city, Qassim, a 59 year old man in Mahayl Assir city, a 49 year old man in Jeddah, a 53 year old man in Riyadh, a 24 year old man in Hofouf city, a 78 year old man in Riyadh and a 58 year old man in Afif city.

The two victims who died were a 60 year old man in Mahayl Assir city and a 56 year old man in Riyadh city.

Three of the people infected were known to have a recent history of contact with camels and drinking raw camel milk.

Worldwide since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1,864 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 659 related deaths.

The Gulf countries have been seeing a seasonal surge in the number of MERS infections. However the number of deaths has comparatively reduced due to increased vigilance from the region’s health officials.

Saudi Arabia has replaced its health ministers twice since the outbreak of the disease in 2012. Health authorities in the kingdom have also urged residents to refrain from consuming camel meat or milk to help prevent the spread of MERS.

MERS is a respiratory disease that causes coughing, fever and breathing problems, and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

The virus is known to be contracted through exposure to infected individuals, from hospitals and by direct contact with camels – believed to be carriers of the virus.

There is no cure or vaccine for MERS, which kills around 40 per cent of its victims.