Thursday, June 11, 2015

KU basketball stays updated on MERS


The Journal-World has been provided two medical statements — one from the head of the USA Team Medical staff and the head of the medical team for the World University Games — concerning Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, which has caused nine deaths (and 1,800 quarantined) in South Korea.

The quotes were distributed by Basketball Travelers, Inc. It was noted that no one in Gwangju currently has MERS symptoms.

From Larry Rink, MD, chairman FISU (International University Sports Federation) Medical Committee: “I want everyone to know that we are well aware of the MERS outbreak. This disease can be contained by quarantine procedures and will be. We have very stringent precautions for this in regards to anyone entering the athletes Village and the country is monitoring those coming into and out of South Korea. I will update you if we have further information. This should not be a concern for these games.”

From Ronald P. Olson, MD, associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine and Lead Physician USA Delegation, World University Games: “At this stage, the risks sound very small. South Korea has known capabilities, the CDC will be watching over us closely, and if it becomes an issue, I think the Universiade Village will be one of the safer places on the planet. A reality is that now an athlete with a fever for any cause is likely going to be quarantined, probably in the end unnecessarily. But this is something we need to be prepared for, and supportive of.”

About 20,000 athletes are expected to compete in the University Games.

“The Government of the Republic of Korea is taking very stringent precautions to avoid any further spread of this virus,” a statement from FISU read as reported by Inside the Games. “We anticipate that the MERS outbreak which has really been quite limited will not have any effect on the games. I can assure you that we are watching this closely.”

Participants are encouraged to wash their hands during the day and not cough toward others to prevent possible scenarios where an illness could be spread.

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Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

You try to manage two things during an outbreak like this, the disease spreading and public fear. Comments like "wash your hands during the day and not cough toward other participants" show how weak the officials there have been at managing fear and why there is concern about how SK is managing this outbreak. A person with common sense would ask, why wash your hands just during the day? How do I control someone else from coughing toward me? They are not installing confidence with the public nor surrounding areas that they have this under control or understand what they are doing. Thus all the school closings, travel restrictions, and paper masks. Overreaction.

It is not just the athletes you have to protect here either, but the fans that travel with them, like family and friends. The fans will be unrestricted in their activities, if allowed will interact with the participants as well.

I would ask Dr. Rink and Dr. Olson, US doctors, if they have reviewed the facilities or the actual procedures/plan on how any possible quarantine would be handled in SK if something should happen. My gut tells me they have not, they are just taking somebodies word for it there. Somebody who wants you to not cough toward other participants.

The risk should be small, like the crowds will probably be. Does not mean that the self inflicted overreaction will be unfortunately.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Harlan.

What makes this outbreak strange is South Korea seems to have the facilities to contain this. Its their missteps in communications that are causing the overreaction by the public. Add to that their unusual interactions with WHO on this and you have a formula for needing caution with taking their word they have this contained. The easy thing is to just not go there, but if that is not an option you have to take steps yourself to protect our citizens going there. If I am Rink or Olson I want someone on the ground, I sent there, I can trust to give me the status updates, or preparation status. Maybe they do, but I have not seen anything that says they are taking this extra step.

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