To report the treatment of the first imported Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in China, and to investigate the clinical features and treatment of the patient.
On May 28th, 2015, the first patient of imported MERS to China was admitted to Department of Critical Care Medicine of Huizhou Municipal Central Hospital. The clinical features and treatments of this patient were analyzed.
(1) A 43 years old male of South Korean nationality was admitted with the complaint of back ache for 7 days and fever 2 days with the following characteristics: back ache 7 days ago, without fever or cough or expectoration. He had been suspected to suffer from infection of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) by the Disease Control Department of South Korea, but no specific treatment was given. He had fever for 2 days with maximum body temperature of 39.7 centigrade. He had no chills, cough, expectoration, short of breath, abdominal pain, diarrhea, frequent micturition, or urgency or pain of urination, and no sore throat. The patient had a history of exposure to MERS-CoV patient. He was considered to be a patient of the second batch of South Korean epidemic. (2) Auxiliary examination: 3 copies of throat swab specimens for virus nucleic acid detection were performed by the Disease Prevention Control Center of China (China CDC), and they were positive on May 29th, 2015, and also for serum, sputum and stool. Based on the results of whole genome sequence analysis, the virus strains were implicated to be derived from Riyahh and Jeddah regions of Saudi Arabia. On admission, the patient's blood test showed that the white blood cell count was low (3.22×10(9)/L), the proportion of the neutrophils was high (0.73), and that of the platelet was low (81×10(9)/L). On admission, the patient's chest X-ray showed that a small amount of infiltration in the lung. (3) TREATMENT: a high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) with oxygen concentration of 0.50-0.80 was given, with a flow rate was set at 60 L/min if tolerated. It was changed to a low flow oxygen inhalation nasal cannula on the 20th day, and oxygen treatment was stopped on the 24th day. Ribavirin 2.0 g was given as the first dose, and was switched to 600 mg every 8 h (q8h), and it was reduced to 600 mg q12h after 10 days, and extenuated since the 13th day. Ceftriaxone was added on the 4th day with 2.0 g a day , and it was changed to meropenem 2.0 g, q8h on the 7th day for 2 weeks. Gamma globulin was given for 7 days (20 g, qd). Thymosin-α1 was given on the 8th day for 2 weeks. Interferon was given once a week, but only one dose was used. At the same time symptomatic treatment such as methimazole and liver protection therapy were given. (4) Patient began to cough at admission, and it disappeared on the 18th day. There was no sputum at first, then a small amount of sputum with a little blood appeared after the admission. Then there was cough without sputum. Mild shortness of breath and diarrhea after exertion were noticed. He had no chest pain, difficulty in breathing or other symptoms. There was dullness on percussion in both sides of chest, and it disappeared gradually. Fine moist rales were detectable in scapular area and interscapular area on the 5th day, and they disappeared after 3 days. Breath sounds on both sides was weak, and it became more obvious in the right lung after 5 days, and returned to normal after 18 days. He had a sustaining fever for 1 week with the maximum temperature of 39.5 centigrade, then the body temperature returned to normal. The viral nucleic acid test as performed by the Center for Disease Control of Guangdong (CDC, Guangdong) showed that the pharyngeal swab cultured turned negative on the 3rd day, that of serum specimens turned negative on the 8th day, that of stool specimen after 2 weeks, and it was persistently positive for sputum culture until 5 days before discharge. The oxygenation index gradually increased, and it was over 300 mmHg (1 mmHg = 0.133 kPa) after 15 days. Pleural effusion was rapidly increased during the first week as shown by chest X-ray films, and it began to be absorbed gradually in the second week, but it was not completely absorbed until discharge.
The disease course of the reported patient was short, with an acute onset, with fever as the chief complaint, but there were no respiratory symptoms, though there were high fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea and other clinical symptoms after admission. Virus in sputum disappeared after treatment, but pleural effusion was not completely absorbed. Negative test for virus in sputum was late, indicating that clearance of virus was slow from the lungs. It is the first case of MERS in China, therefore, the clinical manifestations and the treatment strategy need to be further explored.