First confirmed MERS case in the Netherlands

The first case of MERS in the Netherlands was reported today in a joint statement issued by the Erasmus MC and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The patient is said to have been “infected during a visit to Saudi Arabia,” according to the statement. Local reports in the Netherlands say the patient had visited Mecca and Medina. RIVM says they are working to identify everyone who came in contact with the man. Each person’s health condition is being monitored by the agency. The male patient is being kept in quarantine at the MCH Westeinde hospital in Den Haag. He is in stable condition.

MERS, short for the Middle East respiratory syndrome, has infected over 500 patients in the Middle East to date, according to the WHO. Some cases have been reported in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as parts of north Africa. Nearly all of the cases began with a stop in a Middle Eastern country. “It is not unexpected that there is now a patient in the Netherlands,” the RIVM said. “MERS infections can cause severe respiratory symptoms, especially in people with other health problems.” Human-to-human transmission of the virus is rare, excepting those who are in extremely close contact with an infected patient, according to the RIVM. MERS has a mortality rate of over 40 percent. There is no vaccination against the virus, and there are no antiviral treatments available.