Friday, July 31, 2015

Correlating the World Health Organization (WHO) Line List of MERS Case Numbers from the Republic of Korea (ROK)

The recent outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the Republic of Korea (ROK) is the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula since MERS was first reported in 2012. A total of 185 cases of MERS have been reported to date by the World Health Organization (WHO) from the ROK (see Annex 1). The media has reported that the outbreak in the ROK is over (link), however, WHO does not consider an infectious disease outbreak to be over until twice the maximum incubation period has passed interrupting the chain of human-to-human transmission. The maximum incubation period for MERS is believed to be14 days. The end of the outbreak will only be signaled 28 days after the last MERS-infected individual in the ROK tests negative sometime in the future.

Because of the size and nature of the MERS outbreak in the ROK, researchers will be analyzing the epidemiological data from the ROK outbreak in the future to assess what can be learned from this outbreak. Critical to such analysis is accurate, individual details of each case.

Below is a table correlating the WHO line list of MERS case numbers from the ROK (see Annex 1) with the line list of case numbers from the ROK Ministry of Health and Welfare (see Annex 2), and the line list of MERS disease events from ROK reported by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (link).

A link to a pdf file of this table and  a CSV table of this data are presented below. Hopefully this concordance table will be useful to current and future MERS researchers.

General Table Comments:

1. There are some discrepancies in patient ages between the WHO line list of cases and the ROK line list of cases.

2. ROK Ministry of Health case #10 is not included in the WHO line list from the ROK. This case was reported from China on May 30, 2015 (link) with symptom onset of May 21, 2015 (WHO MERS ordinal number: 1148). While this case is considered part of the 2015 Asia outbreak of MERS it is not included in the WHO line list of cases from the ROK.

3. WHO ordinal case numbers are not necessarily in the correct order for individual cases when WHO presents aggregate case counts in a Disease Outbreak News reports.

4. There appears to be some discrepancies between FAO MERS case data and WHO MERS case data.  

5. The correlation presented in the above table is the best informed concordance of case listings.

Details of Column Headings:

WHO Case Number: WHO Case Number for MERS cases from ROK

Ordinal Case Number, WHO: Ordinal MERS Case Number based on WHO Disease Outbreak News reports

ROK Case Number: ROK Ministry of Health and Welfare Case Number

WHO Age: Age reported by WHO

ROK Age: Age reported by ROK Ministry of Health

WHO Gender: Gender reported by WHO

ROK Gender: Gender reported by ROK Ministry of Health

Onset Date: Symptom onset date reported by WHO

FAOid: Disease event identifier from FAO for ROK MERS cases

Caseid: Unique case identifier number

Annex 2. MERS Case Details reported by ROK Ministry of Health and Welfare

ROK Case Number 1 to 145 (June 14, 2015)

ROK Case Number 146 to 150 (June 15, 2015)

ROK Case Number 151 to 154 (June 16, 2015)

ROK Case Number 155 to 162 (June 17, 2015)

ROK Case Number 163 to 165 (June 18, 2015)

ROK Case Number 166 (June 19, 2015)

ROK Case Number 167 to 169 (June 21, 2015)

ROK Case Number 170 to 172 (June 22, 2015)

ROK Case Number 173 to 175 (June 23, 2015)

ROK Case Number 76 to 179 (June 24, 2015)

ROK Case Number 180 (June 25, 2015)

ROK Case Number 181 (June 26, 2015)

ROK Case Number 182 (June 27, 2015)

ROK Case Number 183 (July 2, 2015)

ROK Case Number 184 (July 3, 2015)

ROK Case Number 185 (July 4, 2015)

ROK Case Number 186 (July 5, 2015)