Three Waves of MERS Infections Closely Followed Influenza Outbreaks

MedicalResearch.com 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.

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Novel DNA Vaccine Provides Protection Against MERS Virus

David B. Weiner, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Chair, Gene Therapy and Vaccine Program, CAMB Co-Leader Tumor Virology Program, Abramson Cancer Program University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David B. Weiner, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Chair, Gene Therapy and Vaccine Program, CAMB
Co-Leader Tumor Virology Program, Abramson Cancer Program
University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

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

Dr. Weiner: MERS, like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), is characterized by high fever and severe cough from pneumonia. MERS is caused by an emerging human coronavirus, which is distinct from the SARS coronavirus. Since its identification in 2012, MERS has been linked to over 1,300 infections and close to 400 deaths. It has occurred in the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, and in the US and in Asia. It can be spread in a hospital setting.

Scientists now report that a novel synthetic DNA vaccine can, for the first time, induce protective immunity against the Middle EastRespiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in animal species.   Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The NIH, the Public Health agency of Canada, and from a leading company in the development of synthetic DNA vaccine technology, Inovio described the results in a paper  published their work in Science Translational Medicine (STM) this week.  The experimental, preventive vaccine, given six weeks before exposure to the MERS virus, fully protects rhesus macaques from disease. The vaccine also generated potentially protective antibodies in blood drawn from camels, the purported source of MERS transmission in the Middle East.

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MERS Transmission To Family Contacts Low

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ziad A. Memish, M.D.
Alfaisal University
Riyadh Saudi Arabia

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Memish:  This is an important study as we looked at the secondary transmission of MERS-CoV among household/family contacts.  Of the total study population of 280 contacts from 26 clusters collected over 6 months period last year, only 12 family contacts were positive for MERS-CoV.

Knowing that 7 (2.5%) were positive by PCR, only additional 5 probable secondary transmission were identified by serology which is a very small fraction missed by PCR. Continue reading