Although it is far from certain that MERS will become the next big global health threat, it is just one of a growing number of emerging pathogens that pose substantial public health risks. And as Korea’s experience with MERS has aptly demonstrated – it doesn’t take pandemic-like spread of a virus to cause significant disruption of medical services, expense, and loss of life.
Along with this novel coronavirus we have several subtypes of avian influenza (H5N1, H5N6, H7N9, H10N8, etc.) with a history of infecting humans, ongoing evolution in swine influenza viruses (H1N1v, H1N2v, H3N2v), several new HPAI H5 enzootics and evolution in canine flu to watch, and the always present possibility that something new (Virus X) will emerge tomorrow.
Although a severe pandemic is worse-case scenario, regional `brush fires’ such as we are seeing in China with H7N9, Egypt with H5N1, and the Arabian Peninsula with MERS can easily be exported to just about anywhere in the world without warning.
It doesn't take a full blown pandemic to ruin your whole day.
Today TFAH (Trust for America’s Health) along with UPMC Center for Health Security and the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) have released an issue brief on the actions the United States needs to take to prepare for the arrival of MERS and other Emerging infections.
Leading infectious disease, public health and emergency preparedness experts are calling for the United States to take additional steps to prepare for MERS-CoV and other emerging infections. Public health and healthcare systems cannot afford to become complacent in preparing for infectious disease threats. Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and UPMC Center for Health Security are recommending system-wide preparedness for potential outbreaks.
MERS-CoV: A Novel Respiratory Virus Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a virus that causes serious respiratory illness, originating in Jordan and first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The virus is new to humans and can cause severe acute illness and death. There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment available, so prevention and early care is vital to containment. To date, most outbreaks have arisen within or through travel to the Arabian Peninsula. However, beginning in May 2015, a chain of transmission occurred in the Republic of Korea. Most of the infections in Korea could be linked to healthcare facilities that cared for ill patients. The recent significant outbreak in South Korea has highlighted the need for America’s public health and healthcare systems to strengthen routine infection control and prevention capacity.
In 2014, the United States had two imported cases of MERS. These cases were both healthcare workers who had worked in Saudi Arabia and were quickly diagnosed and contained with no secondary transmission. United States health systems must be prepared for additional imported cases as Americans travel to the Arabian Peninsula.
This entire Issue Brief should be required reading for all policy makers, clinicians, HCWs, and anyone running a hospital.