CDC announces first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus infection (MERS) in the United States

May 7, 2014

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has been confirmed in a traveler to the United States. This virus is relatively new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the U.S., and we’ve prepared for it and are taking swift action,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, MS, MPH. “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate.”

On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to London, England, and then from London to Chicago. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On April 27, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28 and was admitted that day. The patient is being cared for and is isolated, and is currently in stable condition.

“It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,” says Anne Schuchat, MD, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.

So far, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most patients developed severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died. Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus. Read the full press release from the CDC.

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