WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Lessons from MERS outbreak in South Korea

Lessons from MERS outbreak in South Korea | Courtesy of wikipedia.org

A recent editorial in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases outlines some lessons to be learned from the most recent Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in South Korea.

The editorial, written by Dr. Eskild Peterson and some colleagues, has seven main lessons.

First, the virus is still a major threat for global health and shows potential for epidemic rates over time.

Second, the virus’ evolution and nature have made a more virulent form that requires close monitoring. Genomic studies with many MERS cases is are recommended.

Third, up to 1 million people from more than 182 countries travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for Ramadan. This began June 18, and could lead to MERS spreading globally.

Fourth, during the past 18 months the Ebola virus epidemic overwhelmed all other infectious diseases. This demonstrates that global surveillance systems are not able to concentrate on several infectious diseases at the same time.

Fifth, many questions concerning MERS-CoV’s pathogenesis, epidemiology and management do not have answers.

Sixth, global awareness and surveillance systems for MERS-CoV must be increased, as well as the crucial measures for infection control.

Seventh, people who may have had exposure to MERs must immediately find medical care and quarantine themselves. This includes healthcare workers.

"It is critical that global efforts are focused urgently on basic science and on clinical and public health research into MERS to establish the exact mode of transmission to and between humans," Petersen said. "In parallel, new drugs and other therapeutic interventions and vaccines need to be developed."