(RxWiki News) MERS cases continue to develop abroad, with several new cases reported in recent days. As researchers continue to learn more about the disease's spread, precautions are being urged.
Saudi Arabia has seen the most cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and the latest reported cases were also discovered in that country.
Health officials confirmed an additional four cases of the virus, two of which were discovered in health care workers who showed no symptoms.
"Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing."
On December 27, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that four new cases of the virus had been discovered in Saudi Arabia.
One patient is a 53-year-old man from the city of Riyadh. WHO reported that this patient has underlying chronic diseases and is currently hospitalized in intensive care. The patient had no reported exposure to animals, but did have contact with another confirmed MERS case, said WHO.
Another new infection occurred in a 73-year-old man, also from Riyadh and also with underlying chronic diseases. This patient died on December 18 after three days of hospitalization. WHO reported the patient had a history of animal exposure.
The remaining two new cases were discovered in female health workers from Riyadh. According to WHO, the female patients have not reported any symptoms.
This latest report brings case totals to 170 confirmed MERS infections, including 72 deaths, across the globe since September 2012.
MERS has typically been discovered alongside signs of respiratory illness, although diarrhea has also been a common symptom. Complications have included renal (kidney) failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
WHO has been recommending that travelers returning from the Middle East with severe respiratory symptoms take precautions, and also stressed additional measures of prevention.
The organization asked that new cases be reported quickly so that an exposure investigation can begin.
WHO also suggested that people with high risk (like those with underlying conditions) avoid close contact with animals at farms or barns in areas where the virus is thought to be circulating.
"For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to," said WHO.
WHO also urged vigilance by health care organizations and workers in the face of this infectious virus.
"Health care facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors," WHO recommended.