October 22, 2013 | Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
Each year, millions of Muslims travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the annual Hajj, a pilgrimage central to the Islamic faith. This year’s Hajj, however, caused major global health concerns due to the emergence of a new coronavirus responsible for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).
The high concentration of travelers in Saudi Arabia, where the majority of cases and deaths have occurred, provided a breeding ground for MERS-CoV among pilgrims from around the world.
In response to the growing threat, Fondation Mérieux and Institut Pasteur hosted a MERS-CoV workshop that brought together leading European experts on October 8, 2013, at Les Pensières conference center in Annecy, France. Scientific discussion of MERS-CoV is important, as scientists are still unsure of how the disease is transmitted, and there is a high potential for the disease to spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula.
The workshop at Les Pensières facilitated discussion of the epidemiology of MERS-CoV, strategies for preventing infections, and the risk of epidemics caused by infectious disease. Fondation Mérieux scientists and public health professionals offered their expertise and resources to the fight against one of this year’s most deadly emergent diseases.