May 13, 2014
By Michael Kramer
There’s an important meeting today about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS.
An international panel of experts will decide if the dramatic outbreak of the new MERS Coronavirus has reached a point where it should be called an international public health emergency.
The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on the virus has met 4 times recently to consider that question.
The MERS case count has been rising quickly in the Middle East and has gone from about 200 cases at the end of March to nearly 600 cases now.
Experts say if the committee advises the W-H-O to declare MERS a public health emergency – the agency would gain leverage to try to get important research done on the virus.
MERS is a cousin of the virus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak.