A 29-year-old Qatari national has been diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bringing the tally of cases in Qatar to four.
The patient, the youngest to be diagnosed in Qatar so far, is in critical condition in the intensive care unit of the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has announced.
The SCH has not said whether the national, who suffers from asthma and “several other risk factors,” is male or female.
The SCH’s statement (in Arabic) also does not say that the patient had recently been abroad, so it is assumed that he or she contracted MERS while in Qatar.
The news follows last week’s announcement of what authorities are now calling Qatar’s third case, a 59-year-old male national who had become ill after traveling to Saudi Arabia. He is reported to be in a stable condition.
In November, a Qatari patient became ill in Qatar, and flew to Germany for treatment. He recovered and was recently discharged from hospital.
CIDRAP – the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – reports that tests carried out in Qatar before he traveled tested positive for MERS. The SCH confirms the case was formally identified in November 2012.
And a 49-year-old Qatari man was among the first patients to be diagnosed with the disease when it was discovered last September. The man, who became sick after visiting Saudi Arabia, had been flown to the UK for treatment, and died in London on June 28.
Is is also thought that a Tunisian man who visited Qatar in March and died at home is thought to have had contracted the virus here, but the SCH does not include this case in its tally.
KSA appears to be the epicenter of the virus, and is where the majority of patients have been diagnosed.
Some of the most common symptoms of MERS include fever, cough and breathing difficulties, and occasionally diarrhea in patients with weakened immune systems.
The exact cause of MERS is unknown, though researchers have recently linked the virus to a certain breed of camels in the Gulf.
MERS now appears to spread through human to human contact, especially among those who come into close contact with an infected person. Doctors have not yet come up with an effective treatment.
The SCH said it is stepping up surveillance of acute respiratory infections in Qatar, especially illnesses among those who have been abroad. The patient diagnosed last week had been returning from Saudi Arabia.
There is also a 24/7 hotline to call for anyone concerned about the virus: +974-6674-0951.
Credit: Image courtesy of AJC1