Three Waves of MERS Infections Closely Followed Influenza Outbreaks Interview with:
Daihai He, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Applied Mathematics
Hong Kong Polytechnic University 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We studied the patterns of MERS-CoV cases and influenza cases from May 1, 2012 to May 31, 2015 in the Middle East. Our key findings are that the three waves of MERS appear to follow the waves of influenza A in the Middle East during the period. The influenza A(H1N1)pdm wave which occurred in Egypt in early 2014 closely led to the first major MERS wave in May 2014, while the H3N2 wave in late 2014 in Egypt closely led to the third MERS wave in early 2015. The second MERS wave in late 2014 and third MERS wave in early 2015 appeared to be split off by a H3N2 and/or A(H1N1)pdm waves in the region.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Both MERS and influenza poses significant healthcare burden and are of public health significance in the Middle East, and they are potentially affected by common factors such as meteorological factors, travel restrictions and enhanced surveillance efforts. Our study will help to raise awareness about these two diseases, and it will also provide a knowledge base for better public health prevention and planning.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research could make use of our findings to perform a more in-depth study of the mechanisms underlying the seasonality of MERS and influenza.


Differences in the seasonality of MERS-CoV and influenza in the Middle East 

He, Daihai et al.

International Journal of Infectious Diseases
Published Online:September 25, 2015

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Daihai He, PhD (2015). Three Waves of MERS Infections Closely Followed Influenza Outbreaks