The current outbreak of this disease caused by a coronavirus is centered in the Middle East. Scientists are working to identify the source of the virus. This new virus is similar to a virus found in bats. Cluster cases were reported this week in several health facilities in Saudi Arabia. Cluster cases were also seen in health care facilities with the 2003 outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in southern China which signaled human-to-human transmission. Thus the concern about this outbreak caused by this new coronavirus and the potential for more cases and more deaths.
Britain and France have reported cases of the novel coronavirus in individuals who traveled to the Middle East and became ill upon returning home. Two members of the British man's family have become infected and on May 9, 2013, French officials reported 3 suspected cases in a nurse, doctor, and hospital roommate of the ill individual and May 13, 2013 French officials confirmed the new virus in the roommate.
May 13, 2013 WHO officials said MERS is transmissible human-to-human upon prolonged transmission.