MERS and Ebola Update

Published Tuesday, July 07, 2015

An update on current outbreaks of MERS and Ebola from Dr Simon Worrell BSc MBBS MRCP, Head of Medical Communications at Healix International

undefinedMERS - Whilst the number of those infected by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus in South Korea is stable, a newly imported infection has recently been reported in the Philippines. A 36 year old man who arrived in Manila from Dubai, having transited in Saudi Arabia, has been confirmed as having the MERS virus, and is currently being treated in a facility outside of the Capital. There are few details about his condition except one report stating he was improving, and that he may have had a 'low level' of the virus. What is more clear is that around 200 individuals, who may have come into contact with this index case, are now being quarantined.The Philippines have had some recent experience with MERS, as they treated an infected nurse returning from working in the Middle East in February of this year, and this may suggest that they were somewhat prepared for a similar eventuality - but details are scarce.

These recent imported cases of the MERS virus, occurring in several countries and liable to be transmitted from human to human (rather than the more serious animal to human route), show that preparedness is key to containing an outbreak; or preventing one from starting at all. As the source of the infection - MERS affected camels - are not an indigenous feature of these countries, contact tracing and quarantining procedures are very likely to be successful in curbing transmission.



Ebola - The same may not so easily be said for the Ebola virus, which has had a recent resurgence in Liberia. Two infected individuals have been identified, one from a post-mortem study of a 17 year old boy. The fact that this young man is not known to have travelled to Ebola affected Sierra Leone or Guinea, may imply that the disease was acquired locally  - perhaps from an animal source as has been suggested in one report. As Liberia has been more successful that its neighbours at modifying cultural practices known to aid transmission of the virus, there is hope that further transmission events may be limited. But this is by far uncertain at present.

Back to News list