German, 65, dies of complications from MERS infection: ministry

MERS virusA 65-year-old German man died this month of complications from a MERS infection contracted during a trip to the Arabian Peninsula in February, a German regional health ministry said Tuesday.

The man died in the western town of Ostercappeln on June 6 of a lung disease, the health ministry of Lower Saxony state said.

It is believed he contracted the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) infection during a visit to a livestock market, as camels are thought to carry the virus.

Doctors determined in mid-May that the patient was cured of a MERS infection and he was subsequently released from an isolation ward, the ministry said in a statement.

“Any contagion with the MERS virus of people in contact with the patient was able to be prevented,” it added.

Regional health minister Cornelia Rundt attributed this “great success” to precautions undertaken immediately after the patient’s diagnosis.

“More than 200 people were subsequently tested for MERS and not a single person was found to have been infected,” she said.

Rundt pointed to the spread of MERS in South Korea, which has seen 154 confirmed cases with 19 deaths in what has become the largest outbreak of the virus outside Saudi Arabia, as a cautionary tale.

“The example of South Korea tragically shows that such coordinated management of MERS cases is absolutely crucial,” Rundt said.

Almost half of confirmed cases in South Korea have been traced to a single hospital, Seoul’s Samsung Medical Centre.

There is no vaccine for MERS, which has a mortality rate of 35 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

Globally, some 1,200 people have been infected with MERS and some 450 have died since the virus first emerged in 2012.

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