Scientists suspect that poor hospital ventilation may have contributed to the rapid spread of MERS in Korea.
Bad ventilation alone would hardly explain the catastrophic spread seen in the hospital, says Christian Drosten, a virologist at the University of Bonn in Germany. But if there was bad ventilation plus a patient shedding a greater than usual amount of the virus, it could make a difference. In a study of dozens of MERS patients in intensive care in Saudi Arabia, for example, some had a much higher virus load in their exhaled breath than others, he says. “This must have been such a patient.” In combination with the constant circulation of the air in the room, this could help explain the high number of infections, Drosten says.