WHO Says MERS Not Yet A Global Health Emergency

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A newly-erected sign warns travelers about the danger of the MERS virus, at Denver International Airport, May 14, 2014. (Denver International Airport via AP)

The World Health Organization says that MERS, the potentially fatal respiratory illness that originated in the Middle East, does not constitute a global health emergency — yet. But that does not mean that it’s not taking the disease seriously.

So far, MERS has been found in 18 countries, including two cases in the United States, and has killed 171 of the 571 people it has infected.

In the U.S., health care workers are being told to ask patients with respiratory symptoms and fever where they’ve traveled, and in some cases those patients are being isolated from others.

The outbreak of a previously unknown disease raises questions for travelers and health care workers and leaves many wondering whether they’re at risk of unintentional exposure.

For answers, Here & Now’s Sacha Pfeiffer turns to Dr. David Swerdlow, head of response activities for MERS at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.


  • David Swerdlow, MD, head of response activities for MERS at the Centers for Disease Control.
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