South Korea reports 2 new MERS cases

South Korea reports 2 new MERS cases


May 27, 2015

SEOUL/SEJONG — South Korea have confirmed two new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), raising the total number of people diagnosed with the deadly viral disease to five.

The two patients came in close and direct contact with the first patient, a 68-year-old male who had traveled to the Middle East before returning to Korea on May 4, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The man’s wife was the second patient diagnosed with the disease, while the third was a 76-year-old man who shared a hospital room with the first patient before he was moved to a CDC-designated hospital.

On Tuesday, the CDC said a daughter of the third patient has been diagnosed with the disease, and a doctor who examined the first patient earlier this month was later diagnosed with the disease.

But a nurse, who had been listed as a suspected case, tested negative for the virus.

The CDC believes all of patients two through five, including the daughter of the third patient, contracted the MERS coronavirus after coming in close and direct contact with the first patient.

The daughter of the third patient, the fourth person to be diagnosed, stayed in the hospital room her father had shared with the first patient for four hours while tending to her father, according to the CDC.

Whether or not she caught the virus from the first patient is critical to how the CDC will deal with the new disease since contraction from the patient’s own father would mean a secondary infection, which may require additional quarantine steps.

All five people, along with 59 others who had come in close contact with the first patient, had been placed in isolation.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness that is fairly new to humans, with only 1,142 reported cases in 23 countries since the first case was confirmed in Saudi Arabia in 2012. There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, which has a very high fatality rate of 40.7 percent.