Last MERS patient rediagnosed with disease

October 12, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The patient once thought to be the last South Korean with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been rediagnosed with the viral disease, officials said Monday.

The 35-year-old patient, who had tested negative for the MERS virus in two tests on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, has been infected again, the Health Ministry said.

Earlier in the day, the ministry said the patient had been admitted to Seoul National University Hospital with a high fever. Doctors and relatives who had come in contact with the patient, 61 individuals in total, were quarantined.

After the patient had tested negative, the government was to officially declare the end of the MERS outbreak on Oct. 29, 28 days after the test results became available.

No additional cases or fatalities from MERS had been reported since July until Monday.

MERS is a viral disease that is still fairly new to humans. No vaccine or treatment is currently available for the disease, apparently a reason for the high fatality rate of around 36 percent globally.

Since the country reported its first MERS case on May 20, the disease has infected 186 people, killing 36 of them.

In South Korea, the fatality rate of the disease remains at 19.4 percent.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said it believes a “miniscule” amount of viral DNA has been detected in the patient, who had been dealing with malignant lymphoma prior to his initial MERS infection, and the patient may not be highly infectious.