The MERS Outbreak: Is The Government Doing Enough?
The Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization claim they are hard at work to keep a major outbreak known as MERS from reaching the general population.
MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a respiratory illness similar to SARS that leads to death in 30 percent of cases, according to the CDC, and after two recent cases appeared in the U.S. there has been concern about future outbreaks of the deadly viral infection.
Normally limited to Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, the MERS virus has made its way stateside. On May 2, 2014 the first case was confirmed by the CDC, and shortly after a second case occurred on May 11, 2014 at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando, Fla. Both patients are doing well, but the CDC is more concerned with tracking around 100 people that may have been exposed to the virus after coming in contact with the Orlando patient.
As a precaution, a number of healthcare workers in the Orlando hospital were sent home to be closely monitored, but outside of this, there seem to be no details on what else is being done to track down the others who may have been exposed.
The CDC and WHO appear to be doing everything they can to prevent a full-blown MERS crisis, however many are still concerned about the virus’ fate, including the White House. “The president has been briefed on this development,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “The CDC is taking the current situation very seriously and is working in close coordination with local health authorities.”
The CDC is taking much of the brunt in controlling the MERS situation in the U.S., possibly because of WHO declaring that measures should be taken to control the virus but stopping short of declaring it a global emergency.
For now, the CDC will continue tracking down those 100 individuals while also outlining what else it is doing to better understand the MERS virus, including working with WHO to discover the virus’ source, how its spread, and its risk to infected patients.
Additionally, numerous health advisory notices have been posted by the CDC at airports across the country instructing travelers to wash their hands, refrain from touching their face and avoid close encounters with sick people.
Only time will tell how the deadly MERS virus works out, but for now, the CDC and WHO say they are keeping a very close eye on the situation.