Korea's MERS outbreak, while both sudden and and a bit unnerving, is far from unexpected. We've seen the MERS virus exported to more than a dozen countries outside of the Middle East, and given enough opportunities, seeing a significant nosocomial outbreak somewhere in the world was probably inevitable.
Last December, in The Year Of Spreading Dangerously, we looked a short list of disease threats that were threatening to spread more widely, and MERS was high on that list.
The $64 question right now is, does the MERS outbreak in South Korea differ significantly from those we've previously seen in Saudi Arabia and the UAE?
While all of the evidence is not yet in, ace health journalist Helen Branswell of the Canadian Press is asking that very question this morning of a number of experts, and files the following report:
Published Tuesday, June 2, 2015 7:29AM EDT
TORONTO -- A rapidly expanding MERS outbreak in South Korea is raising concerns the virus may be on the verge of a SARS-like global spread. But there is currently no evidence to support those fears, some experts say.
In fact, they argue that what is different here is that cases are being reported thoroughly and promptly by Korean authorities and in the local media. That has not been the pattern with outbreaks in Middle Eastern countries where the virus originates.
"I think we're all aware of the fact that we're seeing this in much more real time than we have those (outbreaks) on the Arabian Peninsula," said Michael Osterholm, who heads the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy and who helped investigate MERS outbreaks in the United Arab Emirates.