News / Health

US Confirms First MERS Case

Experts Watching MERS Outbreak for Global Menacei
Steve Baragona
May 03, 2014 2:50 PM
The first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has landed in the United States. As VOA's Steve Baragona reports, experts around the world are watching the virus for signs that it could become a global menace.
Related video report by Steve Baragona
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Virus, or MERS, within the United States.

CDC officials Friday said an American health care worker who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia has been hospitalized with the virus in the midwestern state of Indiana. They say the patient has been isolated and is in stable condition.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases director Anne Schuchat said the case is rapidly evolving, and that the CDC is working to identify people who may have been in contact with the patient. Schuchat said the patient traveled from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 24 to London, and then on to Indiana.

The MERS virus first appeared in September 2012, and all of the cases have been linked to six countries in the Arabian peninsula. Saudi Arabia has seen the most cases.

Schuchat said around 400 people have tested positive for the disease since it first appeared, and that about one-third of those people have died from the virus.

MERS is a member of the coronavirus family, which includes germs that cause the common cold, as well as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

SARS popped up in southern China in 2003, infected about 8,000 people in 29 countries and killed about 800 before it was contained.

A spike in MERS cases in Saudi Arabia that began last week has raised worries among health experts that the virus has mutated into a more spreadable form. Schuchat said the reason for the increase is not yet known.

It is not yet clear where MERS came from originally, but camels are the lead suspects.

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Comment Sorting
by: Grant Hopkins from: Pittsburgh Pa.
May 03, 2014 5:25 PM
THis is a major cause for concern. It hit England and Germany 18 months ago. Patient isolation is expensive and a risk to health care workers and doctors.
The five day incubation period allowed the traveller to egress from KSA to Lnndon and Chicago wher it presented in Indiana hospital wher iso quarrentine is very expensive for such a reginal facility.

KSA has great cause for concern as it played down this emerging threat CDC saying the general public in the US is safe is an obfuscation as there is no cure and it spreads in humans by droplets and every sneeze is a risk to health care providers.

WHO played this down for over two years and now are in Riyadh with little to offer.

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