Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Government's Role in the MERS Outbreak

Middle Eastern Forbes published an article on October 9, 2016 about a slight increase in Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) diagnoses in the past few weeks. MERS is caused a coronavirus and was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, where most of the cases have been found, with an outbreak in South Korea in 2015 as well.

There has been some criticism of the government's handling of the outbreak, but some argue that that their response has been no worse that of other countries and that there is a learning curve. Despite this, several government ministers have been dismissed because of their handling of the MERS outbreak. However, the mortality rate has dropped from 60% to 30%, even though there are new diagnoses almost every week.

Most cases have been attributed to human-to-human transmission, including due to poor standards in healthcare settings. In one case, 20 hospital employees were diagnosed with MERS after being exposed to a single patient.

It has been thought that the virus originated from camels, and WHO has advised has that people refrain from drinking raw camel milk or eating camel meat that has not been properly cooked.

Saudi Arabia has placed some restrictions on travel to the Haj, and the Ministry of Health suggests that people over 65 or under 12, pregnant women, immunocompromised patients, and people with chronic diseases postpone their trip.

-Sally Tran

Dudley D. "Going Viral." Forbes Middle East. 2016 Oct 9. http://www.forbesmiddleeast.com/en/news/read/2016/going-viral/articleid/11027

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