Seven more cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
Concerningly three of the patients were recently hospitalised residents of Riyadh, sparking fears of a healthcare related outbreak that are currently being investigated.
MERS-CoV is a virus that the World Health Organisation is keen to control and, eventually, eradicate, with rates remaining relatively low when compared with recent history. The condition, which is believed to be spread by camels, was initially identified as a serious threat to public health five years ago. Research therefore remains in place to try and uncover a cure.
Symptoms range from a fever like cough and lack of breath, to sickness, diarrhoea and, in cases where patients often have more serious underlying health issues, can be far more severe.
Camel contact has been confirmed in three of the cases, including that of an 83 year old male patient from Riyadh. The other two camel related cases are from outwith Riyadh - a 74 year-old from Narjan Province, and a 43 year old from Hai’Il who is said to be in a critical condition.
Two deaths have been reported as a result of the latest outbreak, including one in another 83 year old patient, and another in a 71 year old from the Al-Qassim Region in the north of the Kingdom.
The latest figures take the total number of people reported to have contracted MERS in Saudi alone to 1,812 since 2012, with 735 (or 40% of the cases) being fatal.
Despite its battle with MERS, Saudi Arabia is an extremely attractive destination for medics to work in. The Kingdom offers world leading salaries, year round sunshine and, gradually, is becoming increasingly liberal.
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