The World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned about an outbreak of one of the world’s deadliest diseases after a man was hospitalised in Abu Dhabi.
A 28-year-old male has been left in a life-threatening condition after contracting MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus).
Following the patient’s hospitalisation, the WHO said they would continue to monitor the situation.
MERS, while not the same strain as Covid-19, is closely related to the virus.
Unlike the virus which caused a global pandemic, MERS was discovered much earlier than Covid-19 and is much less transmissible.
The WHO said the latest MERS patient was a non-UAE national living in the city of Al Ain.
They said the patient attended a private medical clinic several times between June 3 and June 7.
The patient reportedly complained of vomiting, pain when passing urine, and pain in their right flank.
Following several visits to a private clinic, on June 8 they went to a public hospital complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms and vomiting.
At first the patient was diagnosed with sepsis, acute pancreatitis, and acute kidney injury.
However, by June 13, the patient’s condition had deteriorated and they were referred to an intensive care unit at a specialist hospital where they were put on a ventilator.
On June 23, they tested positive for MERS-CoV by a PCR test.
MERS was first identified in 2012 and is thought to have originated from an animal and the virus is thought to be spread after people have been in contact with camels.
However, the WHO said the patient had “no known history of direct contact with animals” including dromedary camels.
The patient also reportedly had no co-morbidities, had not travelled recently outside the UAE, and had no history of contact with MERS-CoV human cases.
Following the patient’s diagnosis, around 108 contacts were identified and monitored for 14 days from the last date of exposure.
No secondary infections were found.
Before this patient was diagnosed, the last case of MERS in the region was in November 2021.
When MERS was first identified it was seen as a priority pathogen as it caused severe disease with a high mortality rate.
Symptoms of MERS include headache, diarrhoea, coughing, fever, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, a runny nose, and body aches.