Deadly MERS virus infects second patient in U.S.

Officials confirmed the presence of a second case in Florida, unrelated to the first

Sarah Gray
May 12, 2014 11:17PM (UTC)

Today, health officials in Florida confirmed a case of the deadly MERS virus. This makes it the second confirmed case in the United States.

The first case was reported in Munster, Indiana, on May 2. Though the cases seem to be unrelated, according to NBC News, both patients are healthcare workers who had been in Saudi Arabia. "The patient is isolated in the hospital and is doing well," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


According to NBC News, Frieden also said there was a low threat to the U.S. population.

MERS -CoV stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, and it first appeared in Saudi Arabia back in 2012. In March, the virus spread through the country, and has confirmed cases in France, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, the U.K. and the U.A.E. Yemen, Malaysia, the Philippines and Greece -- and the United States.

"Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness," the CDC reports on its website. "They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. More than 30% of these people died."


Meanwhile, the first patient left the hospital on Friday. Doctor say he recovered fully, and officials don't believe he infected others. Healthcare officials who treated him have been tested for the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 500 cases of MERS reported and 145 of those infected have died. Most of the cases have been in Saudi Arabia. There is currently no known vaccine for the disease.

The CDC has a helpful FAQ about the disease, which can be viewed here.


h/t NBC News

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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