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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.”

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  • Coastghost

    Or, “Not Responding to MERS”. The Obama-Sebelius dog-&-pony show seems to have forestalled development of quarantine protocols for health care workers returning from assignments in Saudi hospitals and clinics where MERS breeds without much obvious hindrance.
    Why did our CDC not impose quarantine protocols for health care workers returning from MERS-site assignments? Sounds like fun-and-games with public health, “let’s just see” how contagious the pathogen might be in OUR country.

    • TFRX

      Keep JAQing it, CG.

      • Coastghost

        At this point the Obama Administration informs us plainly that the CDC is just as robust and well-managed and reliable a health-care institution as . . . the VA hospital system.

        • TFRX

          …and that problem stems back to before January 2009 before you remember.

          You’ve got a history? Of making threadbare statments from the most farfetched right wing crazee sources? And putting question marks at the end of it like Neal Cavuto?

          Keep JAQing it.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        It is easier to imagine conspiracy than it is to accept reality.

    • creaker

      I always find it interesting that Obama is always responsible for absolutely everything (well, everything negative) – and CEO’s are never responsible for anything (except for anything positive).

      • Coastghost

        Well, he has done one poor job of explaining himself: did he actually want the Job, or did he only crave the perks of his Presidential perch?

        • TFRX

          “One poor job”.

          Sounds like it seems like you’ve got quite a set of blinders on.

      • jefe68

        My dog did not catch the woodchuck who has been roaming and eating in the yard, I blame Obama.

        • Ray in VT

          Obama probably not only released the woodchuck into your yard, but he likely also gave your dog some sort of government benefit in order to make him lazy.

          • jefe68

            So that was that drone I saw the other day… The woodchuck drone attack!

  • Coastghost

    Are our NATIONAL health authorities cooperating with international health authorities?

    • Shag_Wevera

      AMERICAN EXCEPCIONALSIM!

  • Coastghost

    Quarantine protocols, Dr. Frieden? Why not? or When?

  • Shag_Wevera

    I work in healthcare, and the variables do not seem right for this to be the next great global pandemic. Lethality and conductivity must make a perfect match so that subjects can spread the pestilence several times before they expire. MERS is not the flu of 1918. HOWEVER, we are WAY overdue for the next worldwide viral epidemic.

    • tbphkm33

      I agree, but what is the probability of MERS to mutate into something much more dangerous? One of these days, something will creep up that at first is dismissed, then suddenly its true potential dangers become evident.

  • Coastghost

    “We don’t think . . . but we don’t know”: THAT’s reassurance!

    • Shag_Wevera

      I’ll answer your concern. THERE ARE NO CERTAINCIES!!!

      • Coastghost

        But Certainty is the hallmark of our confident sciences: Certainty is the epistemic legal tender of our confident sciences. Certainty is what gives our sciences their prowess for making confident predictions, which scientists defer from making whenever expedient.

        • Ray in VT

          Of course. Scientists never acknowledge uncertainty about anything.

          • Coastghost

            They never concede that their “morality” consists purely of extrapolating from their asserted technical ability: mere technical ability confers moral choice. Resistance is futile.

          • Ray in VT

            Of course scientists have set themselves up as a true moral force. I know this now because you have told me so. Here it was all this time I thought that they were doing studies and research in order to make new discoveries and to find out how things work. Silly me.

          • Coastghost

            Well, don’t downplay it, Ray: the superiority of the scientific perspective is self-evident and not subject to review, question, or interrogation.
            Implicit trust in our sciences and technologies should be just as self-evident and immune to questioning.

          • Ray in VT

            Of course. How silly of me to not see that.

          • Coastghost

            I recommend both Feyerabend’s TYRANNY OF SCIENCE and his SCIENCE IN A FREE SOCIETY. (I haven’t gotten to FAREWELL TO REASON or AGAINST METHOD quite yet.)
            I still marvel at the utter impossibility of insisting at this point upon a strict separation of science from state: as Feyerabend clearly suggests, slavery and servitude to science have become so fashionable. (A distinct pity Mr. Steyer sees fit to invest $100 million in the propaganda services of our science mafias rather than promote skepticism towards science’s theocratic claims.)

          • Ray in VT

            Considering that I have seen it attributed to his perspective that the modern sciences shouldn’t be raised as more valid above astrology and rain dances and such, then I think that I’ll pass. Perhaps my brother should say a prayer over his prized cow and sacrifice a goat rather than rely on some sort of scientific twaddle like artificially breeding her to a top sire.

            Oh but for the day when we just made decisions based upon oracle bones or a
            religious book instead of looking at known and provable impacts of man on the environment and vice versa.

            I find that many who seem to want to discard things such as science just have a problem with the fact that their beliefs don’t line up with the facts, so the
            facts just need to be tossed out so that even the invalid positions get a fair
            shake and a spot at the table.

            As for Mr. Steyer, I think that plenty of fossil fuel industry money is already pushing its climate change propaganda under the guise of “skepticism” and “real” science. As I recall the tobacco industry tried the same thing, sometimes with the same people, and it worked for a while.

          • Coastghost

            You’d be in for a treat if you give him a chance on his own terms, Ray: Feyerabend’s demonstration that scientists readily discount alternative claims on the basis of misrepresentation and a complete lack of evidence (when not adducing evidence completely contrary to their specious authoritative claims of intellectual and methodological superiority) is quite well-written, entertaining, and informative. (Science in a Free Society, 91-96)
            Contrary to your assertion, neither Feyerabend nor yours truly is eager to “discard science”: we simply insist it confront its own limitations and stop lying about it to a credulous public ever at its mercy.

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t have time. I have to collect some oracle bones in order to see if it is going to rain in a day or two, as that is just as good as meteorological science.

          • ExcellentNews

            The superiority of scientific perspective is not self-evident, it’s merely evident….

  • Coastghost

    CDC: the Center for Disseminating Coronaviruses?

    • TFRX

      Keep JAQing it, bub.

    • jimino

      From hereon out I will always associate it with Coastghost Dumb Comment, which, scientifically speaking, is almost a certainty to occur whenever you say anything. It will be my response to you in the future.

  • creaker

    They really need protocols for when the day comes that there are too many patients requiring intensive care to fit into the hospitals.

  • hennorama

    No doubt there are already some theorizing/stating that MERS is a “conspiracy of radical Islam,” intended to “kill the infidels,” that got out of control.

    • Ray in VT

      Someone once paraphrased P.T. Barnum and applied it to conspiracy theories/theorists. I just can’t recall who it was.

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — TYFYR.

        Yeah, I can’t recall who that was either.

        A Roman Hen?
        Manna Hero?
        Anon Ram, He?
        A Ma Hen, Nor?
        A Man Hen, Or?

        Neon Arm, Ha!

        Whoever it is, they are probably pretty weird.

        Thanks again FYR.

    • jimino

      And possibly encouraging everyone who would rely on their theorizing to engage in all of those activities the infidels claim to be methods to avoid its spread.

    • HonestDebate1

      Is it possible for you to be more insulting to Muslims?

  • DrTing

    We really need broad spectrum of novel antiviral cheap drugs (for also the poor people) to be administered through the nose or mouth to prevent respiratory or oral infection (by new or mutated viruses).

    In collaboration with NIAID and other laboratories, ActoKine Therapeutics has tested the efficacy of ActoKine 2 (AK-2) against infection by a variety of viruses.

    ActoKine has discovered that AK-2 (drug candidate) is highly active against West Nile virus, bird flu virus (H3N2 & H5N1), Rift Valley fever virus, Punta Toro phlebovirus, HIV, Yellow Fever Virus, Tacaribe virus, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) virus, Hepatitis C & SARS.

    AK-2 (natural biologics) was also found to be active against nine influenza A and two influenza B virus strains and possibly new bird flu and new SARS (www.actokine.com).

    I think ActoKine is looking for open innovation and global collaboration and is determined to make these important medicine available to all, at minimal or no cost.

    • andic_epipedon

      I agree. If we had good anti-virals, we wouldn’t have people demanding antibiotics for viruses. And people like me with compromised immune systems wouldn’t have to worry about losing our jobs or worse dying from nasty bugs.

    • ExcellentNews

      Does it also cure baldness and make you stay all night long???

      It sounds like you are peddling snake oil here. Broad spectrum anti-virals would be nice, but the molecular machinery of nature sadly does not work this way…

  • Yar
  • ExcellentNews

    Yeah folks, the teaching of creationism and the attack on science that has been orchestrated for the last 20 years is REALLY GOING TO HELP US when something like MERS comes to roost here….

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