A 78-year-old Emirati camel farmer is in a stable condition in hospital in the first reported case of the Mers virus in 2018.
The elderly man from Gayathi was short of breath with a cough and fever when he attended hospital in Abu Dhabi on May 13.
He began showing symptoms nine days earlier and is currently being treated as the first reported camel flu case of the year, following a positive test for the virus at Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre laboratory.
Doctors said the patient is at risk due to underlying health conditions, including hypertension and interstitial lung disease.
An investigation into the source of infection is ongoing. The patient reported recent travel to Saudi Arabia and he owns a camel farm in the UAE, which he visits on daily basis.
Anyone who came into contact with the patient has been identified and will be monitored for symptoms for 14 days from the last exposure to him, as per medical guidelines.
The UAE Communicable Disease Department is in co-ordination with the animal authorities to initiate camel testing at the patient’s farm in the Emirates.
Globally, 2,207 laboratory-confirmed cases of Mers-Corona virus, including 787 Mers-associated deaths have occurred since September 2012.
Through its veterinary laboratories, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority has been keen to speed up the activation of diagnostic tests detecting corona virus in camels.
At a symposium on Mers controls in the UAE in April, the Department of Health statistics said the rate of Mers cases has dropped significantly in the past three years, falling by 89.4 per cent.
“ADFCA's labs have actively contributed to controlling and responding to outbreaks of trans-boundary, zoonotic and emerging animal diseases,” said Dr Salama Al Muhairi, director of the Veterinary Laboratories Division of the ADFCA.
“These laboratories also contributed to developing the animal sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and improving human health indirectly by controlling of diseases that transmit from animals to humans.”