A 65-year-old man in Germany diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome died on June 6. The announcement was made on June 16 by a German regional health ministry.
The man had overcome the respiratory infection, but later died due to complications from lung disease at a medical facility in the German state of Lower Saxony, states the Catholic hospital network Niels-Stensen-Kliniken.
The man, who hails from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, travelled to the Arabian Peninsula in February. He is said to have visited a livestock market, where camels, which are potential carriers of the virus, were present.
"More than 200 people were subsequently tested for MERS and not a single person was found to have been infected," says Cornelia Rundt, regional health minister. The key factors to the successful prevention of the virus spread, as manifested by the favorable outcome of the testings, are the precautionary measures implemented following the diagnostic confirmation of the man's condition, she adds.
As per records, the deceased patient was the third person who received medical care in Germany for MERS. A patient from the United Arab Emirates who was diagnosed with MERS died in Munich in March 2013; he was 73. A patient from Essen, in North Rhine-Westphalia, who also contracted the virus recovered from the disease.
The Czech Republic has also reported that a man aged 25, who went on a hiking trip in South Korea in the latter days of May, was suspected of having MERS, but tests have shown he is not infected with the disease, according to a June 17 announcement by Svatopluk Nemecek, the Czech health minister.
The man toured almost all parts of South Korea but had not been in any of the medical health centers where most cases of MERS in the country originated, said Vladimir Valenta, Czech chief sanitary officer. Airports, particularly those in charge of receiving travelers from South Korea, were continuously disinfected and significant interventions were carried out.
The man had symptoms of a cold on June 14, and after two days, he exhibited an increased body temperature of slightly below 38 degrees Celsius, or about 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. He sought a consult at an emergency care unit and was subsequently placed in an infectious care facility pending the outcome of those tests.
The massive spread of MERS in South Korea may be due to a combination of factors, said Christian Lindmeier, spokesperson for the World Health Organization. These factors include the prolonged diagnostic process of the first case of MERS as it was initially regarded as common flu because Korean doctors were unfamiliar with the disease, crowded hospitals and the Korean practice of visiting hospitals in large groups.
There is no vaccine for MERS, which has a mortality rate of 35 percent, according to the WHO. Globally, some 1,200 people have been infected with MERS and some 450 have died since the virus first emerged in 2012. There have been 138 confirmed cases of MERS CoV (including 1 confirmed case in China) reported in the current outbreak so far, with 19 deaths, according to WHO.
MERS is a coronavirus (MERS CoV) and the best defense against it is strong basic public health measures such as infection prevention and control, WHO recommends. That includes wearing protective gear such as masks, gloves and gowns, and changing that gear frequently when moving among patients.
To slow the spread of the disease, WHO recommends early and complete identification of all contacts; quarantine or isolation and monitoring of all contacts and suspected cases; full implementation of infection, prevention and control measures; and preventing travel, especially internationally, of infected persons and contacts.
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