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mBio. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome?How Worried Should We Be?

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  • mBio. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome?How Worried Should We Be?

    [Source: mBio, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

    The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome?How Worried Should We Be?

    Stanley Perlman

    Author Affiliations: Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

    Address correspondence to Stanley Perlman,


    Ten years after the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic, a second coronavirus, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), has been identified as the cause of a highly lethal pneumonia in patients in the Middle East and in travelers from this region. Over the past 9 months, since the virus was first isolated, much has been learned about the biology of the virus. It is now clear that MERS-CoV is transmissible from person to person, and its close relationship with several bat coronaviruses suggests that these animals may be the ultimate source of the infection. However, many key issues need to be addressed, including identification of the proximate, presumably zoonotic, source of the infection, the prevalence of the infection in human populations, details regarding clinical and pathological features of the human infection, the establishment of a small rodent model for the infection, and the virological and immune basis for the severe disease observed in most patients. Most importantly, we do not know whether a MERS-CoV epidemic is likely or not. Infection with the virus has so far resulted in only 91 cases and 46 deaths (as of 29 July 2013), but it is nonetheless setting off alarm bells among public health officials, including Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, who called MERS-CoV ?a threat to the entire world.? This article reviews some of the progress that has been made and discusses some of the questions that need to be answered.


    Citation Perlman S. 2013. The Middle East respiratory syndrome?how worried should we be? mBio 4(4):e00531-13. doi:10.1128/mBio.00531-13.

    Published 20 August 2013

    Copyright ? 2013 Perlman.

    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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