Monday, 30 May 2016

SPHPM at the forefront of MERS coronavirus epidemiology

SPHPM’s Professor Allen Cheng and visiting public health physician Abdullah Alsahafi have published new research on the epidemiology of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness that is new to humans. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in September 2012 and has since spread to several other countries, including the United States. World Health Organization statistics estimate that global case-fatality is approximately 36 per cent in laboratory-confirmed cases.

Most people infected with MERS-CoV develop severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Professor Cheng and Dr Alsahafi reviewed the epidemiology of 939 cases of MERS-CoV that occurred in Saudi Arabia from 2012, when the first MERS-CoV was confirmed up to July 2015.

This cohort represents 60 per cent of the 1570 cases reported worldwide. MERS-CoV is thought to be a zoonosis, a type of infectious disease found in animals that can be transmitted to humans. Camels are suspected to be the primary source of infection for humans, but the exact routes of direct or indirect exposure are not yet known.

Professor Cheng and Dr Alsahafi’s research revealed that patients with a primary infection, those of older age and cases with comorbidities were the most severely unwell. They were also able to identify a distinct clinical profile found in the different populations based on their likely location of acquisition, which reinforces the association of chronic comorbidity and severe infection.

More than 70 per cent of affected patients were aged over 40 years, and in this cohort the survival rate was approximately 42 per cent, and mortality was also found to increase with age.

“Case-fatality rate was found to increase significantly with age, with case-fatality was 12.5 per cent in patients under 19 years and was 86 per cent on those patients over 80 years old,” said Professor Cheng.

Healthcare workers and household contacts were younger and had a lower mortality. A small but significant proportion of household infections and healthcare worker infections were reported to be asymptomatic, although the clinical significance of asymptomatic infection is not yet known.

The research by the Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit will help clinicians in characterising infection due to MERS-CoV and has public health implications for future control measures and therapeutic interventions.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...