After going 4 days without posting an update, the Saudi MOH announced 4 new MERS cases reported between the 21st and 24th.
On the 21st, they report a single case, involving a 67 y.o. Saudi male in stable condition from Najran (near the Yemen border), with recent contact with camels.
On the 23rd, they report on a 64 y.o. Expat male from Riyadh - a `primary' case with no known risk exposure - who is listed in critical condition.
- A 44 y.o. Expat male from Hufoof - another `primary' case with no known risk exposure - who is listed in critical condition.
- And the third `secondary household contact' reported in the past two weeks from a household cluster in Jeddah; a 41 y.o. female Saudi who is listed in stable condition.
While clusters of MERS cases have only been observed in health care facilities (and to a lesser extent, households), we see a substantial number of sporadic `primary' or community acquired cases with no apparent risk (camel, medical facility, or patient) exposure.
Exactly how these community acquired cases arise remains a bit of a mystery, although sporadic community transmission from mildly ill or asymptomatic carriers is considered a possibility.While MERS doesn't yet appear ready for prime time - a recent study (see A Pandemic Risk Assessment Of MERS-CoV In Saudi Arabia) published in the Saudi Journal Of Biological Sciences - suggested the virus wouldn't need to gain a whole lot more transmissibility to become a genuine pandemic threat.
Which is why we continue to monitor these cases closely for any signs of change.