We investigated an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) at King Fahad Medical City (KFMC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during March 29-May 21, 2014. This outbreak involved 45 patients: 8 infected outside KFMC, 13 long-term patients at KFMC, 23 health care workers, and 1 who had an indeterminate source of infection. Sequences of full-length MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) from 10 patients and a partial sequence of MERS-CoV from another patient, when compared with other MERS-CoV sequences, demonstrated that this outbreak was part of a larger outbreak that affected multiple health care facilities in Riyadh and possibly arose from a single zoonotic transmission event that occurred in December 2013 (95% highest posterior density interval November 8, 2013-February 10, 2014). This finding suggested continued health care-associated transmission for 5 months. Molecular epidemiology documented multiple external introductions in a seemingly contiguous outbreak and helped support or refute transmission pathways suspected through epidemiologic investigation.
Keywords: MERS; MERS-CoV; Middle East respiratory syndrome; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; Saudi Arabia; coronavirus; health care workers; molecular epidemiology; mutation; nosocomial infection; phylogeny; respiratory infections; transmission; viruses; zoonoses.