The two-day lull in MERS case reports was nice while it lasted, but the Saudi MOH is back today with 3 new cases; two in Riyadh and one in Aloyoon (aka Al-Oyoun). Fortunately, both cities are far removed from the major Holy Sites being visited during the Hajj.
The Al-Oyoun case is apparently linked to camel exposure, while the two Riyadh cases are the result of exposure to a previously diagnosed case. One being a household contact, and the other being a HCW.
While camels are known to carry the MERS coronavirus, and can briefly shed the virus in copious amounts when first infected, they are believed responsible for only a small percentage of the total MERS cases in the Middle East.
Camels do, however, appear to sporadically reintroduce the virus into the human population, and in that way keep the MERS threat alive.
MERS infections are most commonly acquired from another human host. Frequently in a household or hospital setting, but far too often in the community, without a definable source.
A pattern which has raised (as yet unanswered) questions over the possible spread by mild or `asymptomatic’ carriers of the virus (see WHO EMRO: Scientific Meeting Reviews MERS Progress & Knowledge Gaps).