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MERS in hospitals significant but underplayed; steps needed to stop spread

A colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012 is pictured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases
January 27, 2014 - 2:44 PM

An editorial in a major medical journal warns the spread of MERS coronavirus infections in hospitals in affected countries is a significant but underappreciated problem.

It comes as the World Health Organization confirmed a doctor in Saudi Arabia succumbed to the virus earlier this month.

The man, a Bangladeshi practising in Riyadh, is not known to have had contact with a MERS patient or with the types of animals suspected of being involved in the spread of the disease.

The editorial notes that hospitals are a perfect breeding ground for MERS coronavirus transmission — just as they were 10 years ago when a cousin virus, SARS, emerged from nature.

The editorial points out that 30 of the first 161 known MERS patients were health-care workers.

The article was written by three infection control experts who travelled to Saudi Arabia last spring to help investigate a MERS outbreak in a hospital there.

One of the authors is Dr. Allison McGeer, head of infection control at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital and a veteran of the city's fight against SARS in 2003.

The commentary was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and accompanied a report on the disease course and symptoms of 12 MERS patients treated in the intensive-care units of two Saudi hospitals. Three of the 12 were health-care workers.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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