After going the first two weeks of October without reporting a single MERS case, over the past 6 days we've seen 5 cases announced by the MOH.
Today's case come from the capital of their Asir province, Abha, and involves a 53 y.o. male who is listed in critical condition.
Other than being a `primary' case, we have no information on the source of his infection. `Primary cases' are those that occur in the community when there is no known exposure to a health care facility or to a known human case.
One of the big unanswered questions about the MERS coronavirus is what role – if any – do asymptomatically infected individuals play in the spread of the virus?
Last November's EID Journal: Risk Factors For Primary MERS-CoV Infection, Saudi Arabia found camel exposure a significant factor for infection, but that many community cases had no obvious exposure risk. They wrote:
Other potential explanations of MERS-CoV illness in primary case-patients who did not have direct contact with dromedaries include unrecognized community exposure to patients with mild or subclinical MERS-CoV infection or exposure to other sources of primary MERS-CoV infection not ascertained in our study.
So, for a large proportion of community acquired cases, the source of infection still remains a mystery.