In Saudi Arabia, doctors are watching the spread of MERS, another corona-virus that has been linked to four Middle Eastern nations but also has spread to Europe. So far, nearly half of the 114 people who contracted the virus have died.
Dowell says that researchers are slowly making progress in developing drugs to treat some of these respiratory viruses, which are normally immune to anti-biotics. That's due to advancements in treating another virus, HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS.
While the CDC and NIH are engaging in basic research and epidemiology to understand these killer diseases, some experts say there's a big gap when it comes to drug development.
"There isn't a lot of incentive on the part of industry to make the major investment, $700 million to $1 billion for each drug," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases. "There's a big market for Lipitor, or for a Viagra-like drug because the pharmaceutical companies know when they will make the drug there will be hundreds of millions of people taking it."
Fauci says he's been working to develop partnerships between NIH and drugmakers to get ready for the next outbreak or drug-resistant superbug.