Friday, June 12, 2015

MERS outbreak in South Korea, could reach US

The MERS virus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) has reached South Korea, with at least 122 cases and at least 10 deaths.  Unlike Ebola, the virus is quite contagious.  One reason that it spread in South Korea is that a few sick patients were turned away from emergency rooms, which did not have the protocols to isolate them properly.
CNN has a story warning that MERS is a planeride away from the US and Europe, here
MERS, which may have been hosted by camels, is similar to SARS, and can produce fulminant pneumonia.  But there are many coronaviruses already in man, and most produce colds or a mild bronchitis (a crackly, non-productive cough) that resolves in a few days with no treatment.  They seem to be particularly fulminant on those with weakened immune systems.
The experience last fall with Ebola, with people kept at home for 21 days without symptoms, does not bode well if MERS gets over here.  But SARS was controlled quickly in 2003.
Why are we lagging in vaccine (and anti-viral) development?
Picture: Trench foot, from USA Quartermaster Museum, Fort Lee, VA.


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