Dr. Scott Lassar discusses MERS, bird flu, vaccine resistance in the Middle East

Watch as infectious disease specialist Dr. Scott Lassar explains how vaccinations will help the United States respond to both the threat posed by bird flu and the more urgent threat of Middle East Respiratory…

Dr. Scott Lassar discusses MERS, bird flu, vaccine resistance in the Middle East

Watch as infectious disease specialist Dr. Scott Lassar explains how vaccinations will help the United States respond to both the threat posed by bird flu and the more urgent threat of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) A/S.

Why vaccination is important for those in the Middle East

“I wouldn’t want to be putting an incubator in their nose and being putting their body at a lower risk to get a disease that is actually less than seasonal flu,” Lassar said.

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Do MERS and bird flu have any potential similarities?

“In the body’s reservoir, what happens is they replicate from cell to cell over a period of weeks or months,” Lassar said. “So when we look at both bird flu and MERS and they replicate in the blood, our immune system is going to respond at that moment.”

Are there any differences between MERS and bird flu?

“It’s all about the reservoir,” Lassar said. “What you’re seeing a lot of is similar to what happens with MERS. … When we go back and look at the MERS’ outbreak in Saudi Arabia, it was entirely different than what we’re seeing now with bird flu and what we’re seeing in the Middle East. They had a different host.”

How can the government effectively test a vaccine, while minimizing the risk to the general public?

“We’re testing them, but most likely there are going to be very few of them that are going to have broad immunity, because they are very important to get, and they’re important to protect,” Lassar said. “But given that the middle is high for influenza, let’s say, over the Thanksgiving period, hopefully everybody who is vaccinated will have at least a little virus protection.”

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