Since its emergence in 2012, 2,260 cases and 803 deaths due to Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been reported to the World Health Organization. Most cases were due to transmission in healthcare settings, sometimes causing large outbreaks. We analyzed epidemiologic and clinical data of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases from eleven healthcare-associated outbreaks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea between 2015–2017. We quantified key epidemiological differences between outbreaks. Twenty-five percent (n = 105/422) of MERS cases who acquired infection in a hospital setting were healthcare personnel. In multivariate analyses, age ≥65 (OR 4.8, 95%CI: 2.6–8.7) and the presence of underlying comorbidities (OR: 2.7, 95% CI: 1.3–5.7) were associated with increased mortality whereas working as healthcare personnel was protective (OR 0.07, 95% CI: 0.01–0.34). At the start of these outbreaks, the reproduction number ranged from 1.0 to 5.7; it dropped below 1 within 2 to 6 weeks. This study provides a comprehensive characterization of MERS HCA-outbreaks. Our results highlight heterogeneities in the epidemiological profile of healthcare-associated outbreaks. The limitations of our study stress the urgent need for standardized data collection for high-threat respiratory pathogens, such as MERS-CoV.
Published in Scientific Reports - 05/14/2019