7 lessons from the MERS outbreak in South Korea

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A new editorial published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases laid out seven key lessons to be learned from the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, currently happening in South Korea.

The editorial was penned by Eskild Petersen, a physician from Finland, and his colleagues.

Below are the seven key lessons outlined by Dr. Petersen and others in the editorial:

1. MERS is a major threat to global health security and could turn into an epidemic.

2. The MERS virus needs close monitoring, and genomic studies should be carried out for as many MERS cases as possible.

3. The Ramadan period, which started Thursday, could further the global spread of MERS as roughly 1 million pilgrims from nearly 200 countries travel to Mecca.

4. The Ebola virus outbreak overshadowed news about other infectious diseases for more than a year, showcasing that global surveillance systems cannot aptly focus on multiple infectious diseases at the same time.

5. Information about the epidemiology, pathogenesis and management of MERS still remain a mystery.

6. MERS surveillance systems need to be enhanced, as do the global awareness of MERS and the importance of infection control measures.

7. Healthcare workers and others who may have been exposed to the virus need to self-quarantine and seek medical care early on.

"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," said Dr. Petersen.

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