Monday, April 09, 2018

Saudi MOH Reports 1 MERS-CoV Case


Daily MERS reports from the Saudi MOH continue to be a bit erratic, often posted in batches every 2 or 3 days, and (as the list below illustrates) sometimes skipping days entirely.

No reports for April 3rd or 5th
The latest update, posted overnight, lists one new case in Haweyeiah - which appears to be Al Hawiyah, located very near Taif - and involves an 85 y.o. male with primary camel contact.

Based on the reports being released, the pattern of MERS infections appears unchanged.  Clusters have been small and limited to households and health care facilities, and community cases have been sporadic, with many (but far from all)  reporting recent camel contact. 
Unknown are the number of mild, asymptomatic, or misdiagnosed cases in the community (see EID Journal: Estimation of Severe MERS Cases in the Middle East, 2012–2016) - but for now, we aren't seeing any signs of increased transmission of the virus on the Arabian Peninsula.
The holy month of Ramadan begins in 5 weeks (May 16th), and runs until June 14th.  This year's Hajj begins around August 19th.

While the Hajj is by far the bigger of the two, during both hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims will visit the Holy sites in Saudi Arabia - primarily in Mecca and Madina - before returning home.

While each year we've seen concerns raised over the international  spread of MERS by religious pilgrims making these journeys, so far, neither has sparked any significant outbreak.
Nevertheless, public health officials around the world will be alert for any signs of infection among returning travellers.

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