According to the World Health Organization, Thailand is the latest country to report a case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The case is a 75-year-old, Omani male that travelled from Oman to Thailand to seek medical care. The patient, who has comorbidities, developed symptoms on 10 June and was admitted to hospital in Oman. As symptoms did not improve, he decided to travel to Thailand to seek treatment. He took a flight with three family members and arrived in Bangkok on 15 June. Neither the patient nor his family members reported fever upon arrival in Thailand. He was admitted to hospital on 15 June and tested positive for MERS-CoV on 18 June. On 18 June, the patient and his three family members were transferred to another health care facility where they were put in isolation. Currently, the patient is in stable condition.
MERS is a respiratory virus first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and which since has spread to numerous countries. The present outbreak began in South Korea in May, when an elderly man returned home from the Middle East. Since then, the illness has sickened 166 people and killed 25. The outbreak has prompted school closings and extra precautions across the country. An additional case in China has been reported.
The virus can be transmitted through the air by coughing, and thus far transmission seems to been limited to people in close proximity to one another. The illness typically presents with a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. According to the CDC, 3-4 out of 10 people have died so far, with fatalities typically occuring in people with pre-existing conditions.
As of today, NPR has reported that while no new cases of the illness have been discovered in the last 16 days in South Korea, 177 people in Thailand have been potentially exposed.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit