The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, which causes MERS, is one of the microbes that has sparked research controversy. NIAID/CDC hide caption

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The outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome is slowing down in South Korea, but people were still wearing surgical masks around Seoul on Monday. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A dangerous nuzzle? A man in western Abu Dhabi hugs a camel brought in from Saudi Arabia for beauty contests. Middle East respiratory syndrome circulates in camels across the Arabian Peninsula. Dave Yoder/National Geographic hide caption

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A medical staff member wearing a protective suit waits to enter an isolation ward for patients with Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, in South Korea. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A woman on a street in Seoul checks her cellphone. The government is ramping up efforts to control an outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome by monitoring the smartphones of those under quarantine. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Patient one: A businessman brought the Middle East respiratory syndrome to South Korea in early May. Since then, he has likely spread the virus to more than 20 other people. Several of those have passed the virus onto others. Maia Majumder/Health Map hide caption

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A student wearing a face mask stands in a public square in Seoul on June 3. More than 200 primary schools shut down as South Korea has struggled to contain an outbreak of the MERS virus. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Since the first case on May 20, confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, have swelled to at least 30 in South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images hide caption

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A South Korean walks through a market in Seoul wearing a mask. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye scolded health officials over their "insufficient" response to an outbreak of the MERS virus. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Goats and Soda

South Koreans Mask Up In The Face Of MERS Scare

The spread of the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, virus has sent sales of surgical masks soaring. Do they really help?

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In this photo from 2014, passengers walk past the Middle East respiratory syndrome quarantine area at Manila's International Airport in the Phillipines. The virus is now raising public concern in South Korea. Aaron Favila/AP hide caption

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Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus particles cling to the surface of an infected cell. NIAID/Flickr hide caption

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A rogues gallery of the viruses (left to right) that cause MERS, SARS, and influenza. Niaid; 3D4Medical; Niaid/Science Source hide caption

toggle caption Niaid; 3D4Medical; Niaid/Science Source

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