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A Comparative Analysis of Factors Influencing Two Outbreaks of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia and South Korea

1
High Containment Respiratory Viruses, Special Pathogens, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, MB R3E 3R2, Canada
2
Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Viruses 2019, 11(12), 1119; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11121119
Received: 6 November 2019 / Revised: 27 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 3 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathogenesis of Emerging Viral Infections)
In 2012, an emerging viral infection was identified in Saudi Arabia that subsequently spread to 27 additional countries globally, though cases may have occurred elsewhere. The virus was ultimately named Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and has been endemic in Saudi Arabia since 2012. As of September 2019, 2468 laboratory-confirmed cases with 851 associated deaths have occurred with a case fatality rate of 34.4%, according to the World Health Organization. An imported case of MERS occurred in South Korea in 2015, stimulating a multi-month outbreak. Several distinguishing factors emerge upon epidemiological and sociological analysis of the two outbreaks including public awareness of the MERS outbreak, and transmission and synchronization of governing healthcare bodies. South Korea implemented a stringent healthcare model that protected patients and healthcare workers alike through prevention and high levels of public information. In addition, many details about MERS-CoV virology, transmission, pathological progression, and even the reservoir, remain unknown. This paper aims to delineate the key differences between the two regional outbreaks from both a healthcare and personal perspective including differing hospital practices, information and public knowledge, cultural practices, and reservoirs, among others. Further details about differing emergency outbreak responses, public information, and guidelines put in place to protect hospitals and citizens could improve the outcome of future MERS outbreaks.
Keywords: coronavirus; Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), zoonosis; Middle East; Saudi Arabia; South Korea coronavirus; Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), zoonosis; Middle East; Saudi Arabia; South Korea
MDPI and ACS Style

Willman, M.; Kobasa, D.; Kindrachuk, J. A Comparative Analysis of Factors Influencing Two Outbreaks of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Viruses 2019, 11, 1119.

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