MERS patient deaths reach 37

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MERS patient deaths reach 37

The Ministry of Health and Welfare confirmed Sunday that a man being treated for the after-effects of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) has died, bringing the total number of deaths related to the disease in Korea to 37.

Patient No. 152, a 66-year-old man, received a lung transplant in August after complications from MERS, but his condition worsened, and he died at 1:52 a.m. Sunday.

He had contracted the disease after visiting the emergency room at Samsung Medical Center on May 27 to care for his wife, who was there overnight.

Within 10 days, he developed a fever.

Because he had not been included in authorities’ initial list of people to be quarantined, he tested positive for MERS on June 16, after the maximum incubation period of 14 days.

Afterward, Patient No. 152 received treatment in isolation but remained in unstable condition and had to rely on respirators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, in which blood is pumped from an artificial lung to the bloodstream.

By July, his blood pressure was unstable, and he received a lung transplant on Aug. 28.

Health officials indicated that he had not been suffering from any underlying conditions.

“Even though he received a lung transplant, the situation did not improve,” said a health official, adding that the man apparently died from complications in the aftermath of the surgery.

This is the first new death in 106 days since the last patient died from complications related to MERS on July 11.

MERS was initially brought to Korea in May by a 68-year-old man who had just returned from a business trip to the Middle East.

The first case MERS case in Korea was confirmed May 20, and the virus spread, infecting 186 people.

Like Patient No. 152, most MERS patients at Samsung Medical Center contracted the disease in the emergency ward, where Patient No. 14 stayed for three days. He was considered a “super-spreader,” infecting more than 80 people.

With the death of Patient No. 152, the mortality rate in Korea has been brought up from 19.4 percent to 19.9 percent.

The last new MERS patient was reported July 6.

There are four MERS patients still receiving treatment in hospitals.

Patient No. 80, a 35-year-old man, was re-diagnosed with the disease in an unprecedented case earlier this month, 11 days after he was declared MERS-free on Oct. 1. There has been little change in his condition.

The other three, Patient No. 35, No. 74 and No. 165, have recovered from MERS and are receiving treatment for other under underlying conditions, officials said. They are in stable condition.

On Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report that found that five super-spreaders infected 82 percent of the country’s MERS patients, or 153 in total.

Patient No. 14 contaminated 85 patients out of 594 people he had contact with at the Samsung Medical Center emergency room and other parts of the hospital.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]






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