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    Infectious Diseases A-Z: Emerging infectious diseases

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A recent outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in Saudi Arabia has public health officials monitoring the viral respiratory disease. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says MERS is an emerging infectious disease that tops his watch list. "I pay special attention to the Middle East respiratory syndrome that came out several years ago and has a high mortality, especially if it infects somebody who already has medical comorbidities or is already sick. We've had outbreaks that have spread from the Middle East, so it can spread from person-to-person. We had a large outbreak in South Korea stemming from a single super-spreader who came back to Korea from the Middle East."

Dr. Tosh says, "We are paying close attention to these novel respiratory infections."

Watch: Dr. Pritish Tosh

And paying attention, Dr. Tosh says, to what might be the next pandemic virus. "Influenza pandemics have happened and will continue to happen. They seem to only happen when people aren’t expecting them, and, so, we should really always be expecting them. I worry about influenza, especially novel strains that seem to show human-to-human transmission. Often, if it’s limited human-to-human transmission, those outbreaks will be more limited, but as the virus mutates, we start to see more and more human-to-human transmission — more efficient human-to-human transmission."

Learn more about the Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Department.

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Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert explains Middle East respiratory syndrome (June 19, 2015)