Professor & Preeminent Scholoar
University of Florida
Between March and June 2014 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) had a large outbreak of MERS-CoV, renewing fears of a major outbreak during the Hajj this October. Using KSA Ministry of Health data, the MERS-CoV Scenario and Modeling Working Group forecast incidence under three scenarios. In the expected incidence scenario, we estimate 6.2 (95% Prediction Interval [PI]: 1-17) pilgrims will develop MERS-CoV symptoms during the Hajj, and 4.0 (95% PI: 0-12) foreign pilgrims will be infected but return home before developing symptoms. In the most pessimistic scenario, 47.6 (95% PI: 32-66) cases will develop symptoms during the Hajj, and 29.0 (95% PI: 17-43) will be infected but return home asymptomatic. Large numbers of MERS-CoV cases are unlikely to occur during the 2014 Hajj even under pessimistic assumptions, but careful monitoring is still needed to detect possible mass infection events and minimize introductions into other countries.