Ascel Bio had previously forecasted an increase in springtime activity of MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia. The 2016 forecast for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome showed a bump in transmission in early March to be followed by a more significant peak in May. While an increase occurred in March, a second peak in May did not occur.
There have been 100 reported cases of MERS in Saudi Arabia thus far in 2016 and the number of cases reported per week has been decreasing for the past five weeks. It is unclear whether this is evidence of the epidemic slowing or if the predicted spike may occur later in the year. Trends in MERS incidence, since the beginning of the epidemic in 2012, have shown a high degree of seasonality. The driver of the seasonality is unknown, but may be related to seasonal differences in the use of camels, the animal thought to be the source or reservoir of the MERS virus.
The risk of acquiring MERS is low, but travelers to Saudi Arabia should exercise caution. Travelers to Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries who:
Should contact a healthcare provider for testing and treatment.
Bianca Jackson, BSc (Microbiology) MSPH (Global Disease Epidemiology and Control) Certificate in Vaccine Science and Policy. Bianca is a public health scientist with a Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a background in laboratory science. Her research interests include infectious disease control, implementation science and maternal and child health.