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MERS Disease Hits Students Hard in South Korea

A MERS outbreak in South Korea that has infected dozens of people is going to spread, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

There are 30 diagnoses of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), according to Time magazine, and two people have died since the first case was confirmed on May 20.

The first case appeared in a 68-year-old man who recently traveled to four countries in the Middle East. He developed symptoms, which included fever, cough and shortness of breath. The man sought treatment at two hospitals and two outpatient clinics, possibly infecting anyone he came into contact with at those facilities.

More than 700 people have been put into isolation, and more than 200 schools have been closed to limit the spread of the disease, according to Newsweek.

However, "given the number of clinics and hospitals that cared for the index case, further cases can be expected," the WHO said in a statement.

This is the largest outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia, where the disease first appeared in 2012. There is no known cure or vaccination, but South Korea's advanced medical system and quick communication with the WHO should help in this situation.

"There is a lot more transparency here than on the Arabian peninsula," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told USA Today.

Osterholm has been in contact with the South Korean doctors that are treating the patients. The concern about MERS spreading even further is foremost in the minds of health officials.

"The fact that MERS has spread around the world is not surprising," Osterholm said. "The question is, 'Where is it going to spread to next?' It could very easily come to America. Very easily. Any flight could contain someone who was infected in the Middle East."

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