The first Dutch patient was diagnosed with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Dutch National Institute for the Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Wednesday.
The infection was identified on Tuesday and the patient was admitted to the Medical Center Haaglanden Westeinde in The Hague. He is nursed in strict isolation and all the people he had contact with are being documented and monitored. His health condition is stable.
The Dutch patient got the virus during a visit to Saudi Arabia. Since 2012 there has been an outbreak of the new MERS coronavirus in the Middle East. More than 500 MERS patients in the Middle East were already reported to the World Health Organization, including 145 deaths (stated by WHO on May 9).
In April and May 2014, the number of infections in the Middle East increased. Also travelers from countries like Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Germany and the United States were reported to be diagnosed, so the first patient from the Netherlands is no major surprise.
MERS infections can cause severe respiratory symptoms, especially to people with other health problems, and diarrhea symptoms may also occur. Human-to-human transmission of the MERS coronavirus is rare, except for people with close contact with patients or people giving unprotected care to seriously ill people.