Second Case of MERS Discovered in US

MERS virus found in Florida as second US case confirmed in traveler from Saudi Arabia

(RxWiki News) Health officials around the nation have been on alert after the first US case of MERS was reported on May 2. Now, 10 days later, officials are reporting a second case.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on May 12 that a second US case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has been confirmed.

Like the first case, this new case was "imported," meaning the patient recently arrived in the US from the Arabian Peninsula, where they are thought to have become infected.

"Avoid close contact with others when you are sick."

According to CDC, the patient in this second case of MERS to be discovered in America is not himself American, but is a Saudi Arabian health care worker. The patient is hospitalized in Orlando, Florida, where he was visiting family.

The patient traveled from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Orlando on May 1 via stops in London, Boston and Atlanta, CDC reported. He was hospitalized on May 8 and the infection with MERS was confirmed late in the evening of May 11. The patient is currently in isolation in a Florida hospital where he is reported to be doing well.

The first US patient, also a health care worker who had traveled from Saudi Arabia, was released from an Indiana hospital last week, USA Today reported. The two cases are not thought to be linked.

CDC reported that people who may have had close contact with the patient are being contacted and advised about monitoring their health. Passengers on the patient's recent flights are also being contacted. However, CDC stressed that the threat to the general public is still considered low.

In a press release, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, did not express surprise at the newly discovered US case.

“This second confirmed case of MERS in a person who worked in health care from an area of risk is not surprising,” said Dr. Frieden. “To continue to strengthen our own health security, we need to increase our global ability to support other countries to help them find and stop threats such as MERS promptly, and to prevent them whenever possible.”

MERS was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since that time, a total of 538 cases, including 145 deaths, have been confirmed around the world. All cases have been linked to the Arabian Peninsula.

"At this time, CDC does not recommend anyone change their travel plans," said CDC. "CDC advises people traveling to the Arabian Peninsula who work in a healthcare setting to follow CDC’s recommendations for infection control."

CDC recommended that travelers take note of symptoms like fever or cough that develop within two weeks of traveling in or near the Arabian Peninsula and contact a doctor for guidance.

Review Date: 
May 12, 2014