Wednesday, 19 June 2013

MERS-CoV numbers-where are we at?

As the dust settles from several days of new cases, and deaths and retrospective case identifications, I sit waiting for some caped crusader (no capes!) to step from the shadows and announce "I have the numbers you seek!" Okay, I'm a sucker for a caped crusader.
Alas, there are no such wonderful heroes to help fill the data gaps we lack among the MERS-CoV case data. There are plenty trying though. And so we watch the numbers climb, the cases spread, then contract (depending on which reliable source of information is speaking) and we wait for the likely spike in new cases due to the upcoming Hajj which, even with calls to reduce numbers, will likely go ahead as a mass gathering that puts MERS-CoV transmissibility to the test.

Sometimes we seem to hear a proposed new case or a death, and then we hear no more. 

Where is this virus coming from - animals, are older males with underlying conditions (and what precisely are all these conditions?) getting it from Pipistrellus sp. or perhaps Rousettus aegyptiacus bats via contamination of dates, date products of palm sap-derived drinks/alcohol? How can the world prepare, or understand whether it needs to prepare, for a novel virus when the region of its apparent origin (we don't know that either) has trouble sorting out whether members of its own populace are positive or not? A rough - what else can there be - count shows at least 23 dates of onset missing, 9 dates of death, 10 ages, 67 dates of hospitalisation and 11 sexes undefined for around 72 cases.