ANOTHER U.S. case of deadly MERS virus has been diagnosed in Orlando area…traveled from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London to Boston, then Atlanta and finally to Orlando, FL. Gee, how many people on those planes could be infected?
USA TODAY (h/t Diana) Another patient has turned up at an American hospital with the lethal respiratory virus MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today.
The agency would not identify the man, but said he is a resident of Saudi Arabia, not an American. He was a health care worker in Saudi Arabia, which has been the center of the outbreak, and is now in an Orlando Hospital.
The person traveled to the USA from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 1, to visit family in Orlando, traveling through London, Boston and Atlanta on the way. All the passengers on the U.S. legs of the patient’s journey are being notified today to look for possible symptoms of the virus, though the risk of transmission is considered very slight.
Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the disease has mainly been transmitted by close personal contact, such as directly caring for a very ill person – not through casual contact. The general public is not believed to be at risk from the virus, he said, with the warnings being made “in an abundance of caution.”
The CDC said more than 500 people could have been in close proximity with the patient. CDC officials cautioned that while the patient felt the symptoms of the MERS virus while traveling from Saudi Arabia, it was not known if the patient was infectious at that time.
The virus was first identified in people in 2012 but has been spreading rapidly since March of this year. To date, there have been 538 lab-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV worldwide, including 145 deaths attributed to it; the vast majority of those cases occurred in Saudi Arabia, CDC officials said.