US Gets First Case of Deadly MERS Virus

Traveler from Saudi Arabia is infected in Indiana hospital

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 2, 2014 4:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – The CDC today is reporting an unwanted milestone—the first known case of a deadly virus known as MERS has shown up in the US, reports NBC News. The patient is an unidentified health care worker who traveled to the US from Saudi Arabia and is now being treated at an unnamed hospital somewhere in Indiana, reports the Indianapolis Star. Health officials say the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus doesn't spread easily, so those who might have come into casual contact with the traveler probably weren't exposed. It generally takes close, person-to-person contact, as with health care workers.

"In 2014, these new diseases are just a plane ride away," says the CDC's Anne Schuchat. “We have been preparing since 2012 for this eventuality.” MERS was first spotted in the Arabian Peninsula that year, and the World Health Organization has since confirmed 262 cases in 12 countries, reports CNN. Of those, 93 patients have died. The patient in Indiana flew from Riyadh to London to Chicago, then rode a bus to Indiana. He went to a hospital complaining of shortness of breath on April 28 and has been in treatment ever since. (As for where the disease originated, we can probably blame camels.)

This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS virus.
This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS virus.   (AP Photo/National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases via The Canadian Press, File)
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