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Middle East Respiratory SyndromeA Global Health Challenge

Educational Objective
Understand how health settings can amplify transmission risks
1 Credit CME

In May 2013, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan warned that a novel coronavirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), posed “a threat to the entire world.”1 Her warning was prescient. As of June 12, 2015, WHO had been notified of 1289 individuals with laboratory-confirmed infections in 25 countries, of whom at least 455 individuals (37%) had died.2 More than 85% of cases have been diagnosed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Lawrence O. Gostin, JD, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 (gostin@law.georgetown.edu).

Published Online: June 17, 2015. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7646.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Both authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

References
1.
World Health Organization.  Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly closes with concern over new global health threat.http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/world_health_assembly_20130527/en/. Accessed June 15, 2015.
2.
World Health Organization (WHO).  Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)—United Arab Emirates.http://www.who.int/csr/don/09-june-2015-mers-are/en/. Accessed June 10, 2015.
3.
Al-Abdallat  MM, Payne  DC, Alqasrawi  S,  et al.  Hospital-associated outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.  Clin Infect Dis. 2014;59(9):1225-1233.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
4.
Lucey  DR.  Editorial commentary: still learning from the earliest known MERS outbreak, Zarqa, Jordan, April 2012.  Clin Infect Dis. 2014;59(9):1234-1236.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
5.
Müller  MA, Meyer  B, Corman  VM,  et al.  Presence of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus antibodies in Saudi Arabia.  Lancet Infect Dis. 2015;15(5):559-564.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
6.
Sang-Hun  C.  Fears of MERS virus prompt broadening of cautions in South Korea.http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/world/asia/south-korea-mers-cases-lead-schools-to-close.html. Accessed June 12, 2015.
7.
Sang-Hun  C.  MERS virus’s path: one man, many South Korean hospitals. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/world/asia/mers-viruss-path-one-man-many-south-korean-hospitals.html. Accessed June 12, 2015.
8.
Fiddler  DP.  Who owns MERS? https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/saudi-arabia/2013-06-06/who-owns-mers. Accessed June 9, 2015.
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