Ann Saudi Med 2014 Sep-Oct;34(5):396-400
Dr. Mohammad Khalid, Department of Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center PO Box 3354 Riyadh 11211 Saudi Arabia,
Background And Objectives: Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome caused by novel coronavirus (MERS CoV) has been a major public health challenge since it was first described in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. So far, there is no effective treatment for this serious illness, which features a high mortality rate. We report an initial experience of the use of ribavirin and interferon (IFN)-a2b in the management of MERS CoV at a tertiary care hospital.
Design And Settings: A case series of 6 patients admitted with a confirmed diagnosis of MERS CoV were treated with ribavirin and IFN-a2b in addition to supportive management. The patients' demographics, clinical parameters, and outcomes were recorded. Fifty-four close contacts of these patients were screened for MERS CoV.
Methods: Six patients with MERS CoV infection were included in this study. Four cases featured symptomatic disease, including pneumonia and respiratory failure, while 2 were asymptomatic close contacts of the MERS CoV patients. The MERS CoV infection was confirmed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction detection of the consensus viral RNA targets upstream of the E gene (UPE) and open reading frame (ORF1b) on a sputum sample. The patients' demographics, comorbid conditions, time to diagnosis and initiation of treatment, and clinical outcomes were recorded.
Results: Three out of 6 patients who had comorbid conditions died during the study period, while 3 had suc.cessful outcomes. The diagnosis and treatment was delayed by an average of 15 days in those patients who died. Only 2 close contacts out of the 54 screened (3.7%) were positive for MERS CoV.
Conclusion: Treatment with ribavirin and IFN-a2b may be effective in patients infected with MERS CoV. There appears to be a low infectivity rate among close contacts of MERS CoV patients.