Indoor air 2017 09 28() doi 10.1111/ina.12430
Infections caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are a serious health issue due to their prevalence and associated mortality. However, the transmission routes of the virus remain unclear and thus the current recommended control strategies are not evidence based. In this study, we investigated the transmission routes of MERS-CoV during the first nosocomial outbreak in the Republic of Korea in May 2015 using a multi-agent modelling framework. We identified seven hypothesised transmission modes based on the three main transmission routes (long-range airborne, close contact and fomite). The infection risks for each hypothesis were estimated using the multi-agent modelling framework. Least-squares fitting was conducted to compare the distribution of the predicted infection risk in the various scenarios with that of the reported attack rates and to identify the hypotheses with the best fit. In the scenarios in which the index patient was a super-spreader, our model simulations suggested that MERS-CoV probably spread via the long-range airborne route. However, it is possible that the index patient shed an average viral load comparable to the loads reported in the literature, and that transmission occurred via a combined long-range airborne and close contact route. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.