90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Responding To MERS

The MERS virus has made the hop from the Middle East to the US. MERS kills one in three. We’ll look at how the American medical community is arming up.

A Center for Disease Control health advisory warning travelers about the risks of MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is shown at a TSA screening area, Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at Miami International Airport in Miami. MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death. (AP)

A Center for Disease Control health advisory warning travelers about the risks of MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is shown at a TSA screening area, Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at Miami International Airport in Miami. MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death. (AP)

MERS is not a global pandemic.  But it could become one.  We learn that an American flew out of Saudi Arabia with it, and suddenly it’s catching in Indiana.  It hasn’t spread like SARS did, but its death rate is much higher.  1 in 3 so far.  Probably came from camels.  Maybe Egyptian tomb bats.  But global travel can and will take it everywhere.  Especially from a country that draws millions to Mecca and then back home.  Fundamentalist Saudi Arabia is taking heat for not being helpful enough, transparent enough.  How does the world armor up against a new mobile threat?  This hour On Point:  the challenge of tackling MERS.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Amena Bakr, Qatar correspondent for Reuters. (@Amena_Bakr)

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control. (@DrFriedenCDC)

Dr. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

From Tom’s Reading List

Reuters: Silently among us: Scientists worry about milder cases of MERS — “Scientists leading the fight against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome say the next critical front will be understanding how the virus behaves in people with milder infections, who may be spreading the illness without being aware they have it.”

The Wall Street Journal: WHO Calls for Urgent Measures to Control MERS Virus – “The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for urgent measures to control the deadly MERS virus, but stopped short of declaring its recent spread to be an international public-health emergency, a step that would have put pressure on governments to act. Despite a surge in new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome since March and illnesses now reported from the U.S. to Malaysia, there is no evidence that the virus is widely spreading, an emergency panel for the United Nations public-health agency found.”

CNN: Will MERS become a global threat? — “The rise in the reported number of MERS cases in the United States, Asia and Europe has fueled concern that this may be the big one: the 21st century equivalent of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 3% to 5% of the world population. Concern is appropriate, because the coronavirus responsible for MERS can evolve to become more potent public health threats. However, I don’t yet see evidence that will happen.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 31, 2014
Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine State Trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  (AP)

Quarantines and Ebola. An exploding rocket. Apple’s CEO comes out. Hawaiian lava flows. Midterms in the home stretch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Oct 31, 2014
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and Sauncho Smilax (Beninico del Toro) share a drink in a scene from the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

From “Interstellar” to “Into the Woods.” The biggest and best movies of the fall and holiday seasons. What to see, what to skip.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 31, 2014
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and Sauncho Smilax (Beninico del Toro) share a drink in a scene from the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

From “Interstellar” to “Into the Woods.” The biggest and best movies of the fall and holiday seasons. What to see, what to skip.

 
Oct 31, 2014
Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine State Trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  (AP)

Quarantines and Ebola. An exploding rocket. Apple’s CEO comes out. Hawaiian lava flows. Midterms in the home stretch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Three: What Is The Dow Jones Industrial Average?
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

We dig in to that all-important, all-confusing daily stock notice: the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: October 31, 2014
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

We tumble for ya, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Tuco the Massachusetts K-9 Unit puppy in training.

More »
1 Comment
 
Awards Season 2014: The Movies Worth Your Time
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

What movies should you watch before 2014 comes to a close? Our critics offer their picks for the movies of the season right here.

More »
Comment