Second MERS Case Reported in United States


May 12, 2014

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that it has confirmed the nation's second imported case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), this one in Florida.

The infected person is a healthcare worker from Saudi Arabia who flew from Jeddah on May 1 to Orlando, Florida, to visit family. There were flight connections in London, England; Boston, Massachusetts; and Atlanta, Georgia. Feeling under the weather from the beginning of the trip, the person eventually experienced the MERS symptoms of fever, chills, and coughing, and reported to the emergency department of Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando on May 9. The hospital admitted the patient, and the CDC confirmed the MERS coronavirus (CoV) on May 11. The patient's condition is improving, according to a hospital official quoted in a news release from the Florida Department of Health.

The first imported case of a person in the United States infected with MERS-CoV — a healthcare worker in Saudi Arabia visiting family in Indiana — was confirmed May 2. The man fully recovered and was released from an Indiana hospital on May 9. Public health authorities monitored close to 50 family members, close contacts, and healthcare workers who were exposed to the patient; none of them tested positive for the virus.

In a news conference today, Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that the cases in Indiana and Florida were unrelated.

As of May 12, a total of 538 MERS cases and 145 deaths globally had been reported to the World Health Organization, according to the CDC. Most of the cases and deaths have been in Saudi Arabia, which has experienced a recent spike in infections.

The CDC has called MERS-CoV a "low risk to the broader general public" in light of the virus' limited ability to spread from human to human in community settings. However, the agency is alerting healthcare providers that MERS-CoV has more readily spread in hospitals, and therefore requires tight infection control measures.

Anyone who develops fever, cough, and shortness of breath within 14 days after traveling from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula should see a clinician and inform him or her about their travels, according to the CDC.

More information on MERS is available on the agency's Web site.


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