The U.S. government this week declared the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus a public health emergency and national security threat, a declaration that empowers the FDA to fast-track diagnostic tests and other tools used to identify and prevent infections in U.S. citizens abroad. Similar designations were conferred for the H1N1 swine influenza in 2009 and for the H7N9 avian influenza this year. MERS has been confirmed in 54 human cases and 30 deaths.

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