Super spreaders in Seoul: patient infected 82 people with Mers virus

Mers super-disseminator: patient infected 82 people in South Korea
The dangerous Mers virus, which claimed hundreds of lives, particularly in the Middle East, had been brought to other regions of the world by travelers in recent years. South Korea was particularly affected. Researchers have now found that a single patient infected at least 82 people in the capital, Seoul.

Deadly virus was brought in by travelers
The dangerous Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which has claimed hundreds of lives, particularly in the Middle East, has been introduced by travelers to other regions of the world several times in recent years. The deadly virus was also diagnosed in Germany. The largest outbreak outside the Arabian Peninsula is a wave of infections in South Korea. The first Mers case was reported there in May 2015, and in July it was said that Mers in South Korea had been overcome. A total of 36 out of 186 people in the East Asian country who were found to have the virus died. At the time, the rapid spread of the viruses was attributed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to, among other things, a lack of knowledge about the disease and crowded emergency rooms. A new study by South Korean scientists now shows that the experts were right in their assumption.

Patient infected at least 82 people
In the South Korean Mers epidemic last year, a single patient infected 82 people with the dangerous coronavirus. This is shown by a study that was recently published in the specialist magazine "The Lancet". According to the information, the researchers reconstructed the course of the epidemic on the basis of camera recordings and medical records and identified the so-called super-spreader. It was "Patient 14", 35 years old and the bed neighbor of the 68-year-old patient who had introduced the virus from the Middle East.

Crowded emergency room and lack of communication
In May 2015, Patient 14 reportedly went to the emergency room of the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul - a facility that was overcrowded that day. There he became infected with the dangerous virus when he was in a room with the 68-year-old. It was only later isolated after it became known that it carried the pathogen. So it was not "Patient 1", but his bed neighbor, who infected 41 visitors, 33 other patients and eight hospital staff within three days. "Overcrowding played a major role in this outbreak and is typical of modern medical operations," study author Doo Ryeon Chung said according to a report by the internet portal "". Inadequate ventilation of the emergency room, the lack of isolation rooms and the lack of communication between clinics have also contributed to the problem. "Emergency preparedness and vigilance in hospitals, laboratories and authorities are crucial for preventing further major outbreaks not only of Mers infections, but also of other emerging infectious diseases," said the scientist.

Infection can be fatal
Mers-CoV was first identified in Saudi Arabia in September 2012 in a 60-year-old patient with a severe respiratory infection who died soon after. Presumably there have been diseases due to the virus, but these have not been examined in more detail. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the pathogen has been detected in more than 1,700 people worldwide, over 600 of them died. It is similar to the SARS virus and can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath and cough, but can also lead to severe pneumonia. However, the disease is often almost symptom-free. According to health experts, severe courses mainly occur in people with chronic medical conditions.

SARS also had a super disseminator
At the time, a so-called super-disseminator was also reported for the related SARS virus. In 2002 and 2003, around 800 people died of the pathogen within a few months, and thousands were infected. The WHO later calculated that about half of the approximately 8,000 SARS cases registered worldwide were due to a doctor from the southern Chinese province of Guangdong who traveled to Hong Kong and - already seriously ill - lived in a hotel. (ad)

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Video: S. Korea confirms mutation of MERS virus (January 2022).