Daniel Lucey on Global Viral Outbreaks

On April 22, 2013, Daniel Lucey, Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at ‎Georgetown University Medical Center and an expert on global virus outbreaks, delivered the ‎final CIRS Monthly Dialogue of the 2012-2013 academic year.  Titled “Global Travel and ‎Virus Outbreaks 2003-2013,” the talk focused on past global outbreaks of respiratory diseases ‎like SARS and H1N1, and a possible future one that has recently been discovered in the Middle ‎East. ‎

Giving some background into coronavirus epidemics, Lucey explained that the severe acute ‎respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus first appeared in 2002 in Southeast China. He recalled ‎that “by the first half of 2003, the SARS coronavirus had spread to twenty-nine nations on five ‎continents,” largely through air travel. The virus initially spread through hospitals as infected ‎patients transmitted the disease to medical staff who in turn infected family members. The ‎contagion had a 10 percent fatality rate; out of the approximately 8,000 people who were ‎diagnosed, 800 people died. Due to the large percentage of fatalities, the Chinese government ‎received heavy criticism for their handling of the situation, but, according to Lucey, because this ‎was such a novel disease that spread at such a rapid pace, it could not have been predicted, nor ‎easily halted.