The MERS virus appears to be spreading–albeit very slowly. The third case of the disease in the United States has been officially diagnosed. An Illinois man likely picked up the illness from an Indiana man who was diagnoed as the first within the country to have the disease earlier this month. Middle East respiratory syndrome hasn’t had much of an impact on this third person diagnosed with it, however. The man never needed any medical treatment and is feeling well according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The two men–the first and third confirmed cases in America–met twice prior to the man from Indiana falling ill and subsequently being hospitalized in Munster, Indiana. The Indiana man traveled from Saudi Arabia where he lived and was employed in the health care field. The transmission is believed to have taken place via a handshake.
‘‘We don’t think this changes the risk to the general public,’’ Dr. David Swerdlow of the CDC. He says the risk to the general public of contracting the MERS virus still remains low at this time.
Illinois resident who had contact with Indiana #MERS patient tests positive for MERS coronavirus. http://t.co/NRzD0nsNls
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFriedenCDC) May 17, 2014
Health officials report that the MERS virus is only spread from person to person contact via close contact. Many of the cases diagnosed in the Middle East are health care workers or family members of those with confirmed MERS cases. Some airports within the U.S. have issued warnings regarding the disease.
The MERS virus was first seen two years ago in Saudi Arabia. It has been found in camels, however officials still have not determined how it first spread to humans. There is no vaccine or cure for the disease and there’s no specific treatment other than to relieve its symptoms. Those symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Not everyone who is exposed to the MERS virus becomes ill.
Heard about #MERS? Join #CDCchat 5/19 @ 3PM EDT to talk about viruses crossing US borders & #GlobalHealthSecurity: pic.twitter.com/5Now66KaLs
— CDC (@CDCgov) May 16, 2014
MERS belongs to the coronavirus family which also includes the common cold and SARS. Severe acute respiratory syndrome was a health scare in 2003, when it caused approximately 800 deaths around the world.
Is the MERS virus a cause for alarm? Will it impact your travel plans in the coming months?
Image via Wikimedia Commons