U.S. reports second imported case of deadly MERS
The second case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that initially surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012 has been discovered in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday.
The CDC said that the patient is a healthcare worker who resides and works in Saudi Arabia and is unlinked to the first U.S. imported case of MERS reported May 2 in Indiana.
The patient is isolated at an Orlando hospital, "being well cared for, and is currently doing well," the CDC said in a statement.
According to the U.S. agency, the patient first flew to London and then through Boston and Atlanta, arriving in Orlando on May 1.
"The patient reported feeling unwell during the flight from Jeddah to London and continued to feel unwell on subsequent flights with reported symptoms that include fever, chills and a slight cough," it said.
The patient was hospitalized last Friday and diagnosed with the MERS virus Sunday night.
U.S. health officials said that the patient may be infected with the virus in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS infection are occurring.
People who had close contact with this patient during travel or in the Orlando area are being contacted, they said.
The first U.S. case of MERS was confirmed in an American health worker who works in Saudi Arabia on May 2. He is considered to be fully recovered and was released from the hospital last Friday.
Despite the two imported cases, the risk to the U.S. general public from MERS "still remains very low," the CDC said.
"Given the dramatic increase in MERS cases in the Arabian Peninsula, we expected and are prepared for additional imported cases," said Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.
"The reason for this increase in cases is not yet known, but public health investigations are ongoing, and we are pleased to have a team in Saudi Arabia supporting some of those efforts," Schuchat said.
So far, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases of MERS infection in 14 countries with at least 145 deaths, and all reported cases have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula
Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Doctors do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.