While MERS reports out of Saudi Arabia have been fairly subdued this spring, we continue to see sporadic, widely scattered primary (community acquired) cases pop up around the Kingdom.
Many are linked (as is today's case) to either direct - or less commonly, indirect - camel exposure, while others have no apparent risk exposure.
`Direct camel exposure' is fairly self explanatory. The EID Journal's Risk Factors For Primary MERS-CoV Infection, defined indirect camel exposure as: Having visited settings where animals were kept but without having direct contact; or exposure to household members who themselves had direct animal exposure.
We'll likely have to wait for a WHO update to learn how today's case fits that definition.
While limited, these primary cases take on increased importance as the Holy month of Ramadan (this year, May 26th-June 25th) is less than a month away.
All able bodied Muslims are required to make at least one major pilgrimage to Mecca during their lifetime, at the time of the hajj. This is known as the fifth pillar of Islam, and is one of the duties incumbent upon all Muslims.
The faithful may also make `lesser pilgrimages’, called omra (or Umrah), at other times of the year. These minor pilgrimages don’t absolve the faithful of making the hajj journey unless they take place during the holy month of Ramadan.The Hajj, which is a much bigger mass gathering event and will see several million international visitors, takes place this year in late August - early September.