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BMC Med. 2016 Sep 7;14(1):132. doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0686-3.

Infectious diseases epidemic threats and mass gatherings: refocusing global attention on the continuing spread of the Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Author information

Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London, London, UK.
NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.
KSU Mammals Research Chair, Zoology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Viroscience Department, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Special Infectious Agents Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Centre, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Medical Laboratory Technology Department, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.


Media and World Health Organization (WHO) attention on Zika virus transmission at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2015 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa diverted the attention of global public health authorities from other lethal infectious diseases with epidemic potential. Mass gatherings such as the annual Hajj pilgrimage hosted by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attract huge crowds from all continents, creating high-risk conditions for the rapid global spread of infectious diseases. The highly lethal Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) remains in the WHO list of top emerging diseases likely to cause major epidemics. The 2015 MERS-CoV outbreak in South Korea, in which 184 MERS cases including 33 deaths occurred in 2 months, that was imported from the Middle East by a South Korean businessman was a wake-up call for the global community to refocus attention on MERS-CoV and other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases with epidemic potential. The international donor community and Middle Eastern countries should make available resources for, and make a serious commitment to, taking forward a "One Health" global network for proactive surveillance, rapid detection, and prevention of MERS-CoV and other epidemic infectious diseases threats.


Control; Epidemic transmission; Hajj; Infectious diseases; MERS-CoV; Mass gathering

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