There has been much talk recently on a new virus which has emerged in the Middle East, fashionably called the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. Scientists are rushing to figure out the biology behind this virus, hoping to find solutions before the population infected passes the tipping point and it becomes extremely hard to contain this disease.
Although some of the earliest signs of this virus were in March of 2012, in the month of April 2014 the number of onsets of the virus have increase tenfold. This exhibits a change from being in a fairly stable state of about 20 onsets per month to an unstable increase. At this point, the first and second minor waves have passed and is now in its subsequent phases, but this is the first major wave of infectious persons seen.
One of the major questions is the transmission of the infection from node to node. This virus, like many others, operates in a contact network, where it is necessary for an edge to arise from person for the infection to spread. Recently that edge was in the form of an American citizen flying back to the United States with the disease. Originally thought as being transmitted through dromedary camels, but even people in cities are becoming infected. The infection is currently most detrimental to those with pre-existing conditions. The one trend with this virus, however, is the very low amount of infected persons who show substantial symptoms. With precautions, mostly these viruses remain unharmful.
Will this virus break through the tipping point? I do not think it will, as the contact network has been identified, and while the spike in infected persons is real, the virus has yet to debilitate large numbers of otherwise healthy people. If that occurs, we have a true epidemic problems on our hands.