MERS research article examines effects of disease

More than 1,500 people have developed MERS since 2012.

More than 1,500 people have developed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) since 2012, with over 500 fatalities. 

Recently, an article was published in The American Journal of Pathology, after an autopsy that was conducted in 2014.

“The article by Dianna L. Ng et al exemplifies the value of a well-performed study of an autopsy,” Dr. David Walker, director of the University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, said. “The long interval between the emergence of this dangerous disease three years ago and the first autopsy reminds us of the lost opportunity that the decline of the performance of autopsies -- particularly research-oriented post-mortem examinations in the United States -- represents.”

A male patient was given the autopsy. The 45-year-old was examined in the United Arab Emirates. The patient was infected when he was at work in a storage room at a paramedic station.

“In the case of MERS, development of numerous animal models was undertaken prior to knowledge of the human pathology,” Walker said. “Although these experimental studies were able to suggest the target cells of the virus and histopathology of MERS, only some of the features of the animal models conform to the observations in the human autopsy. Until the truth-testing of a large series of autopsies is reported, judgment will favor those models supported by the observations in a single postmortem examination.”

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