The scientific paper, from European researchers, further suggests that transmission of the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus is occurring at a rate close to the threshold where it would be considered able to pass from person to person in a sustained manner.
In fact, the authors say, based on the available evidence they cannot rule out the possibility that person-to-person spread is the main mode of transmission of the virus at this point.
The other option, they say, is that the virus is spreading via a combination of animal-to-person and then person-to-person transfer.
“We conclude that a slow growing epidemic is underway, but current epidemiological data do not allow us to determine whether transmission is self-sustaining in man,” they write in the article, to be published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The scientists are from Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and the Institut Pasteur in Paris. The work was done with funding from Britain’s Medical Research Council, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other agencies.
To date there have been roughly 155 confirmed MERS cases and at least 65 of those infections have ended in death.
All the cases trace back to infections in a handful of countries on the Arabian Peninsula: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Source: The Province