Friday, May 2, 2014

MERS in the US: Indiana Man Tests Positive for Coronavirus

An Indiana man has tested positive for the MERS virus
An American man has tested positive for the MERS virus in the state of Indiana, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who confirmed the test results on Friday.

The man, who is a healthcare worker, had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia where he had worked as a healthcare provider.

On April 24 he flew from Riyadh to London and then on to Chicago in the US. He took a bus to Indiana where he is currently hospitalized in stable condition and in isolation.

New cases of MERS have also been reported in Greece, Yemen, Malaysia and the Philippines in recent weeks and there have been conflicting reports of the virus in Egypt. All the exported cases had direct links to the Arabian Peninsula.

Update 05/03/2014: WHO has confirmed MERS in an Egyptian man who had been living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He had contact with two previously confirmed MERS patients and is in stable condition in an Egyptian hospital. 

Saudi Arabia has reported the highest number of cases with 378 currently announced by the Ministry of Health and 107 deaths or 28% of those infected.

MERS has doubled in the Saudi Kingdom just in April, including 39 new cases in the last three days. Officials have attributed the rapid increase in reported cases to better reporting and 'warmer weather'.

Experts feel the risk of a worldwide MERS pandemic is low as the virus does not seem to be easily transmissible between humans and secondary infections tend to be less serious.

According to Anne Schuchat, Director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and Assistant Surgeon General for US Public Health, MERS has shown a "very low risk to the broader general public."

CIDRAP and the World Health Organization have been monitoring the virus since it first appeared in the Middle East two years ago.

Schuacht said officials have been expecting that MERS would reach the US eventually. "We've been preparing for this," as she cautioned that MERS in the United States is "another reminder that diseases are just a plane ride away."

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