Reuters reports this morning that there have been six new cases of MERS in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
All of the new victims are aged between 26 and 42 and this brings the total number of cases to 88 with 45 deaths. All six were either health workers or had been in close contact with someone with the disease. Unlike most of the cases all those involved were healthy individuals and by contracting it they have proved once and for all that human to human transmission is not only possible but becoming more common.
Those infected have so far showed only mild symptoms of the disease and at this point none of them are thought to be in a life threatening condition.
The World Health Organization is due to issue a statement in the next few days regarding the Haj pilgrimage when millions of pilgrims gather in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to show their allegiance to the Prophet Mohammed.
It’s not expected at this time that either the WHO or individual countries will advise a travel ban to the affected areas. The worry is however that the millions of pilgrims returning from the Haj could have a mild or even symptomless infection with MERS that could be spread to those who are less well when they return home. This is a particular worry for hospital staff and other health workers returning from their pilgrimage to Mecca.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.