Health

CDC Confirms First Case Of MERS Virus Contracted On U.S. Soil

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The first case of the MERS virus being spread from one person to another in the United States has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control.

The news comes just weeks after the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) on United States soil was reported in Indiana. The second, shortly after, occurred in Florida. Both cases involved individuals who had recently traveled outside of the United States and contracted the virus while in another country, bringing it back with them.

The Illinois man is believed to have contracted the virus from the first U.S.-based patient in Indiana after meeting with him on business twice in the United States before he fell ill and was hospitalized, reports The Guardian.

The Illinois man had not traveled out of the country recently, as the other two reported U.S.-based MERS patients.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims that the Illinois man never needed medical treatment and is feeling well. He did not develop any symptoms of the MERS virus after infection.

Testing by the CDC confirmed that the Illinois man had antibodies in his system to the virus, reports The Daily Mail. It is believed that his immune system was able to fight off the virus upon infection.

“This latest development does not change CDC’s current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS,” said Dr. David Swerdlow of the CDC. “It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick. Along with state and local health experts, CDC will investigate those initial cases and if new information is learned that requires us to change our prevention recommendations, we can do so.”

The MERS virus outbreak is mostly concentrated in Saudi Arabia. Of the 15 countries where the MERS virus has appeared there have been 572 laboratory-confirmed cases with 173 deaths from the virus. Symptoms of the MERS virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  The virus is spread through close contact with an infected person but not all who are exposed to the virus fall ill.  MERS is believed to originate in camels but it is unknown how it spreads to humans.

The CDC does not view the MERS virus as being highly contagious.