MERS Outbreak in Korea
June 9, 2015
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a wholly containable problem in Korea. It is much less contagious than SARS or influenza, and outbreaks have been linked mostly to hospitals.
- Previous efforts in at least six other countries have succeeded in stopping the outbreak from spreading in the general population.
- For persons with lung disease, kidney disease, immunodeficiency, or diabetes, MERS virus can cause a life-threatening pneumonia. But for persons without those conditions, MERS causes less severe or mild illness, or even no symptoms at all.
- The primary transmitter of the MERS virus to people is from camels so the risk of reintroduction into Korea is not high.
- The Korean government is acting correctly to track down and isolate the cases and contacts from the one hospital. Containment will require rapid public health response, effective outbreak communication with the public, and transparent consultations with international health organizations including the CDC in Atlanta.
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