Second case of MERS confirmed in the United States

The CDC and Florida State Health Department have confirmed a second imported case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, coronavirus in the United States, according to a telebriefing.

The patient is a health care provider who works and resides in Saudi Arabia and is currently in Orange County, Fla. The patient traveled from Saudi Arabia to Florida on May 1, 2014, and went to the emergency department on May 8. The patient flew from Saudi Arabia to London, England, then from London to Boston, Mass., Boston to Atlanta, Ga., and then onto Orlando, Fla. The patient started feeling ill on the flight to London and continued feeling ill on subsequent flights with reported symptoms, including fever, chills and a slight cough. Currently, the patient is isolated and doing well. No further information is currently available regarding the patient. However, more information is expected later today.

The first US case of MERS was reported May 2 in Indiana, and according to health officials that patient has been released from the hospital. The Florida patient is not linked to the Indiana patient.

“Our experience with MERS, so far, suggests that the risk of the general public is extremely low,” Director of the CDC, Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said.  

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

Thomas Frieden

The CDC is working to contact all of those who may have had contact with the Florida patient. However, Anne Schuchat, MD, FACS, FAAP, said it is still unknown if there is a risk associated with airline travel.

Anne Schuchat, MD

Anne Schuchat

According to Schuchat, the CDC does not currently recommend that anyone change their current travel plans. However, on May 2, the CDC changed their travel notice for enhanced precautions for travelers planning to work in health care settings in the Arabian Peninsula and nearby countries.

“These travelers are advised to follow CDC’s recommendations for infection control which are discussed in great detail on the CDC’s MERS website,” she said. “All travelers to the region are advised to take steps to protect their health, such as hand washing and avoiding close contact with sick people.”

As of May 12, 538 laboratory confirmed cases and 145 deaths due to MERS have been reported. Saudi Arabia alone has reported 450 laboratory confirmed cases and 112 deaths.