First Case Of MERS Infection In U.S. Confirmed By CDC
The first case of an American in the U.S. being infected with MERS has been reported by the CDC.
The American male became ill after flying to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia where he was a health care worker, reports AP.
At this time he is hospitalized and in good condition in northwest Indiana. The CDC and Indiana health officials are investigating the case.
MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is a viral respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus is spread from close contact with infected persons but not all who are exposed to the virus become ill. It is believed to originate in camels but it is unknown how it spreads to humans.
The CDC reports 30% of those infected die from the illness.
Saudi Arabia has been the center of the MERS outbreak. 400 cases have been reported since 2012, and more than 100 people have died, reports TIME.
Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters during a CDC briefing that the virus is not highly contagious and this specific case “represents a very low risk to the broader, general public.”
The CDC does not know how many passengers on the same flight may have been exposed to the virus and plans to find those he may have been in contact with.
How the man contracted the virus is unknown at this time.
MERS cases have shown up in Europe and Asia and experts believe it was only a matter of time before it reached the United States.
"Given the interconnectedness of our world, there's no such thing as 'it stays over there and it can't come here,'" said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University MERS expert.