Friday 25 October 2013

MERS update: WHO catches up but passes along no detail - and Hajjis look clear

The World Health Organisation updated it's MERS-CoV tally. The total (144 cases) is the same except for the confirmation of 2 deaths (to 62) hinted at in my last update

Disappointingly and once again, the update doesn't allow any analysis because there are no specific details with which to cross-check against our case lists.

Even CIDRAP is heading to the newspapers to try and identify which existing cases have died.

With my arbitrary deadline for emergence of new MERS cases being the 27th of October (this Sunday)  only 2-days away, I think its pretty safe to say that there has been no major symptomatic MERS-CoV transmission event associated with the peak assembly period of the Hajj in 2013 (just like there was none in 2012 when MERS-CoV was already in play). 

The United Arab Emirates is reportedly not checking pilgrims for symptoms, although they have their own 2-week clock running to monitor for signs and symptoms of new cases of flu-like illness in pilgrims.

Thankfully, there are studies performing actual laboratory testing, although the details remain unclear. Such studies will tell us whether MERS-CoV is among us already, but not causing the serious disease we've become used to associating with the virus.

Dr Jake Dunning (@OutbreakJake) noted on Twitter...

He also went on to say that...

ISARIC - the International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium- can be read about at
So my next question becomes, have we been watching the emergence of a new endemic human coronavirus? That question is based on a hypothesis that we have a lot more undetected cases and on Dr Ziad Memish's earlier assertion that MERS-CoV cases are already out and about in other countries. Time, and some testing, will tell.

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