A new report indicates that the 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea can be traced to one “super-spreader.”

The high transmission after single-patient exposure suggests the virus may be more transmissible than previously thought, they write in an article published online July 8 in the Lancet.

The findings should serve “as an international alarm that preparedness in hospitals, laboratories, and governmental agencies is the key not only for MERS-CoV infections but also for other new emerging infectious diseases.”

Super-spreaders are patients who, possibly because of increased viral load or heavy nasal secretions, “can cause large outbreaks through several modes of transmission,” Sun Young Cho, MD, from the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues write.

In this case, the patient’s movement through the hospital may also have been a factor.

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