Professor and Head
Hong Kong University
The incubation period is an important epidemiologic distribution, it is often incorporated in case definitions, used to determine appropriate quarantine periods, and is an input to mathematical modeling studies. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) is an emerging infectious disease in the Arabian Peninsula. There was a large outbreak of MERS in South Korea in 2015. We examined the incubation period distribution of MERS coronavirus infection for cases in South Korea and in Saudi Arabia. Using parametric and nonparametric methods, we estimated a mean incubation period of 6.9 days (95% credibility interval: 6.3-7.5) for cases in South Korea and 5.0 days (95% credibility interval: 4.0-6.6) among cases in Saudi Arabia. In a log-linear regression model, the mean incubation period was 1.42 times longer (95% credibility interval: 1.18-1.71) among cases in South Korea compared to Saudi Arabia. The variation that we identified in the incubation period distribution between locations could be associated with differences in ascertainment or reporting of exposure dates and illness onset dates, differences in the source or mode of infection, or environmental differences.