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Concept: Saudi Arabia


Background In September 2012, the World Health Organization reported the first cases of pneumonia caused by the novel Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We describe a cluster of health care-acquired MERS-CoV infections. Methods Medical records were reviewed for clinical and demographic information and determination of potential contacts and exposures. Case patients and contacts were interviewed. The incubation period and serial interval (the time between the successive onset of symptoms in a chain of transmission) were estimated. Viral RNA was sequenced. Results Between April 1 and May 23, 2013, a total of 23 cases of MERS-CoV infection were reported in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Symptoms included fever in 20 patients (87%), cough in 20 (87%), shortness of breath in 11 (48%), and gastrointestinal symptoms in 8 (35%); 20 patients (87%) presented with abnormal chest radiographs. As of June 12, a total of 15 patients (65%) had died, 6 (26%) had recovered, and 2 (9%) remained hospitalized. The median incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 14.7), and the serial interval was 7.6 days (95% CI, 2.5 to 23.1). A total of 21 of the 23 cases were acquired by person-to-person transmission in hemodialysis units, intensive care units, or in-patient units in three different health care facilities. Sequencing data from four isolates revealed a single monophyletic clade. Among 217 household contacts and more than 200 health care worker contacts whom we identified, MERS-CoV infection developed in 5 family members (3 with laboratory-confirmed cases) and in 2 health care workers (both with laboratory-confirmed cases). Conclusions Person-to-person transmission of MERS-CoV can occur in health care settings and may be associated with considerable morbidity. Surveillance and infection-control measures are critical to a global public health response.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Public health, Epidemiology, Disease, Patient, Saudi Arabia, World Health Organization


A novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causing severe, life-threatening respiratory disease has emerged in the Middle East at a time when two international mass gatherings in Saudi Arabia are imminent. While MERS-CoV has already spread to and within other countries, these mass gatherings could further amplify and/or accelerate its international dissemination, especially since the origins and geographic source of the virus remain poorly understood.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Qatar, Jordan, Arabic language


A human coronavirus, called the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), was first identified in September 2012 in samples obtained from a Saudi Arabian businessman who died from acute respiratory failure. Since then, 49 cases of infections caused by MERS-CoV (previously called a novel coronavirus) with 26 deaths have been reported to date. In this report, we describe a family case cluster of MERS-CoV infection, including the clinical presentation, treatment outcomes, and household relationships of three young men who became ill with MERS-CoV infection after the hospitalization of an elderly male relative, who died of the disease. Twenty-four other family members living in the same household and 124 attending staff members at the hospitals did not become ill. MERS-CoV infection may cause a spectrum of clinical illness. Although an animal reservoir is suspected, none has been discovered. Meanwhile, global concern rests on the ability of MERS-CoV to cause major illness in close contacts of patients.

Concepts: Disease, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Arabic language


Behaviours such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and unhealthy alcohol consumption are leading risk factors for death. We assessed the Canadian burden attributable to these behaviours by developing, validating, and applying a multivariable predictive model for risk of all-cause death.

Concepts: Death, Yeast, Saudi Arabia, Life expectancy, Canada, Ontario, Government of Canada


Accurate information about the prevalence and types of tobacco use is essential to deliver effective public health policy. We aimed to study the prevalence and modes of tobacco consumption in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), particularly focusing on the use of Midwakh (Arabic traditional pipe).

Concepts: Tobacco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Iran, Arab people


This study estimates the potential health gains achievable in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with improved controls on environmental pollution. The UAE is an emerging economy in which population health risks have shifted rapidly from infectious diseases to chronic conditions observed in developed nations. The UAE government commissioned this work as part of an environmental health strategic planning project intended to address this shift in the nature of the country’s disease burden.

Concepts: Medicine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Nations, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Arab people, Ras al-Khaimah



To the Editor: A majority of the 94 cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection that have been reported to date have occurred in Saudi Arabia. Patients with this infection have presented with serious respiratory disease and have required hospitalization.(1),(2) However, there have been case reports of less severe disease within family(3),(4) and hospital(2) clusters, and the clinical spectrum of MERS-CoV infections may extend to asymptomatic and subclinical cases. Therefore, the epidemiologic and clinical characteristics of this infection need further definition. The patterns of the spread of MERs-CoV among family(3),(4) or hospital(2) clusters suggest that . . .

Concepts: Health care, Health, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Arabic language


The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has caused recurrent outbreaks in the Arabian Peninsula since 2012. Although MERS has low overall human-to-human transmission potential, there is occasional amplification in the healthcare setting, a pattern reminiscent of the dynamics of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreaks in 2003. Here we provide a head-to-head comparison of exposure patterns and transmission dynamics of large hospital clusters of MERS and SARS, including the most recent South Korean outbreak of MERS in 2015.

Concepts: Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Jordan


Nations are accumulating cyber resources in the form of stockpiles of zero-day exploits as well as other novel methods of engaging in future cyber conflict against selected targets. This paper analyzes the optimal timing for the use of such cyber resources. A simple mathematical model is offered to clarify how the timing of such a choice can depend on the stakes involved in the present situation, as well as the characteristics of the resource for exploitation. The model deals with the question of when the resource should be used given that its use today may well prevent it from being available for use later. The analysis provides concepts, theory, applications, and distinctions to promote the understanding strategy aspects of cyber conflict. Case studies include the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian cyber attack on the energy firm Saudi Aramco, the persistent cyber espionage carried out by the Chinese military, and an analogous case of economic coercion by China in a dispute with Japan. The effects of the rapidly expanding market for zero-day exploits are also analyzed. The goal of the paper is to promote the understanding of this domain of cyber conflict to mitigate the harm it can do, and harness the capabilities it can provide.

Concepts: Economics, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cyberspace, Saudi Aramco, Cyber spying, Nuclear program of Iran