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Risk factors for transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection during the 2015 outbreak in South Korea



Risk factors for transmission of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection during the 2015 outbreak in South Korea



Clinical Infectious Diseases 64(5): 551-557



Transmission heterogeneity was observed during the 2015 South Korean outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. Only 22 of 186 cases transmitted the infection, and 5 super-spreading events caused 150 transmissions. We investigated the risk factors for MERS-CoV transmission. Epidemiological reports were used to classify patients as non-spreaders, spreaders (1-4 transmission), or those associated with super-spreading event (≥4 transmissions). Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the factors that influenced MERS-CoV transmission. Compared to non-spreaders, spreaders exhibited a longer interval from symptom onset to isolation (7 days vs. 3 days) and more frequent pre-isolation pneumonia diagnoses (68.2% vs. 17.1%). Spreaders also exhibited higher values for pre-isolation contacts (149 vs. 17.5), pre-isolation hospitalization (68.2% vs. 16.5%), and emergency room visits (50% vs. 7.3%). Spreaders exhibited lower cycle thresholds for the upE and ORF1a genes (22.7 vs. 27.2 and 23.7 vs. 27.9, respectively). Transmission was independently associated with the cycle threshold (odds ratio [OR]: 0.84, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.75-0.96) and pre-isolation hospitalization or emergency room visits (OR: 6.82, 95% CI: 2.06-22.84). The spreaders with ≥4 transmissions exhibited higher values for pre-isolation contacts (777 vs. 78), pre-isolation emergency room visits (100% vs. 35.3%), and doctor-shopping (100% vs. 47.1%), compared to other spreaders. These findings indicate that transmission is determined by host infectivity and the number of contacts, whereas super-spreading events were determined by the number of contacts and hospital visits. These relationships highlight the importance of rapidly enforcing infection control measures to prevent outbreaks.

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Accession: 058779262

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27940937

DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciw768


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