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Saudi team releases new findings on MERS virus

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  • Saudi team releases new findings on MERS virus
    Saudi team releases new findings on MERS virus
    By Frances Rylands-Monk, contributing writer
    May 2, 2016 -- Research from Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), underlines how imaging investigations can help early detection and management of disease progression, thereby playing a crucial role in predicting patient outcome and preventing the spread of infection.

    Startlingly, the researchers noticed in many cases that radiological signs of infection in patients coming to the hospital from risk areas had been overlooked, and the seriousness of the disease process had been underestimated. These patients were sent home only to return several days later when their condition had drastically worsened or developed into adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) -- and after they had potentially infected others. In this category of outpatients, the mortality rate from ARDS was higher than in those kept and monitored at the hospital.
    "After a patient undergoes chest radiography, typically a radiology resident will read and report the image three to six hours later, and the consultant radiologist will probably look at the image at a later date. However, clinicians also tend to take an initial look at the exam, particularly for urgent cases, and they may not have sufficient experience to interpret the image. This is one way early findings which hold vital clues about infection may get missed," Das noted.
    The 55 MERS-CoV patients fell predominantly into two categories: Of 33 admitted elderly patients who had a direct epidemiological link with a primary contact and who had a relatively higher number of associated comorbidities, 18 (55%) died due to complications and secondary infection. In the second group comprised of 22 inpatients, mainly young healthy healthcare workers, only one patient died (5%).
    While patients who are young and have no comorbidities will have a better prognosis than the old and infirm, Das stressed that monitoring and quarantining patients in a hospital environment will improve outcomes and help prevent infection spread.
    "If a patient from an endemic area presents with flu-like symptoms and if radiological signs such as ground-glass opacities and consolidation can be visualized on the image, clinicians should immediately perform a sputum analysis. Until it is confirmed as negative, patients should be kept at the hospital," said Das, who now works as a consultant thoracic and cardiovascular radiologist at the College of Medicine and Health Science at United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain...

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