Tuberculosis is a more threatening infectious disease in South Korea than the MERS virus, a local doctor said Tuesday.
Heo Dae-seog, professor of the internal medicine department at Seoul National University Hospital, said that TB spreads very easily through the air whereas Middle East Respiratory Syndrome spreads through direct contact.
It is very unlikely that the MERS virus can be spread through the air, he said.
South Korea has the highest incidence rate of TB among the world's 34 wealthiest countries belonging to the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In 2013, 36,089 South Koreans were diagnosed with TB, of whom 2,466 have died, said the doctor, adding that six to seven people die from TB every day.
Meanwhile, 87 people have tested positive for MERS, of whom seven have died, since the first outbreak of MERS on May 20.
Heo also warned that TB is usually easy to treat with antibiotics, but drug-resistant forms have emerged that resist most of the mainline drugs and can take months or even years to eliminate. (Yonhap)