After going 11 consecutive days without reporting a new infection, this morning the Saudi MOH website shows 3 new cases (2 from Taif, 1 from Affif) since December 21st.
The most recent report (Dec 25th) regards a 28 year-old male with direct camel contact, a common route of infection. The patient is describe as being in stable condition.
On Dec 21st a 45 year-old female from Taif was announced - this time a `primary' infection with no known risk exposure. Again this patient is listed in stable condition.
The following day (Dec 22nd) a second `primary' case was reported from Taif (60, M) - with no listed risk exposure - but this time the patient was reported to be in critical condition.
Although the source of many MERS infections are self evident (camel contact, household contact, hospital acquired), for many we simply don't know how an individual was exposed. The possibility has been raised of mild or asymptomatic transmission in the community, but that remains largely unproven.
MERS cases have declined over the past year - largely because improved infection control procedures have lessened the size and impact of large nosocomial outbreaks - but the virus still lurks on the Arabian Peninsula, and continues to make the jump to humans.While still not ready for prime time (see Study: A Pandemic Risk Assessment Of MERS-CoV In Saudi Arabia) - the virus continues to evolve - and every jump to a human host gives it another opportunity to adapt better to our physiology.
Which keeps it perhaps not at the top of our pandemic threats list, but certainly still on the first page.