EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO 011
CDC confirms first case of MERS Coronavirus infection in the U.S.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was confirmed on Friday in a traveler returning to the United States from Saudi Arabia, CDC reported.
“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director. “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. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”
On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, 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 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient was in stable condition as of May 2, 2014. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient Friday afternoon.
“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,” said the assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.
CDC and Indiana health officials are not yet sure how the patient became infected with the virus. Exposure may have occurred in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials also do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient.
So far, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. [Note: Egypt has also recorded at least one case. Editor.] To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died. [Note: Confirmed death toll exceeds 102. Editor] 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.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).”
MERS symptoms include fever and pneumonia leading to kidney failure and often death. Most victims who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of these people died.
MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, MERS-CoV is most similar to coronaviruses found in bats. –CDC
Countries With Lab-Confirmed MERS Cases – Since April 2012
- Egypt (see below)
- Saudi Arabia
- United Kingdom (UK)
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- Unites States of America (USA)
Source of MERS
MERS-CoV has been “extraordinarily common” in camels since the 1990s, and it may have evolved after being passed to humans, according to a recent study. The virus has been found in camels in Qatar and a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV.
Doctors Resigning for Fear of Infection
At least four doctors at a Jeddah hospital resigned in April after refusing to treat MERS patients for fear of infection, said reports.
Egypt’s Reports First Case of MERS-CoV
Egypt reported its first case of MERS last week. A man in his twenties who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia, and showed symptoms of the infection, tested positive for MERS-CoV, according to a report.
MERS a Year Ago
A total of 38 infected cases had been reported in Saudi Arabia, 49 worldwide, as of May 30, 2013.
- Saudi MERS Death Toll Reaches 102 April 28, 2014
Links to Other Infectious Dieases
- Ebola Kills 100 in West Africa April 5, 2014
- Ebola Spreads to Liberia, Senegal Shuts Border March 31, 2014
- Ebola Outbreak Kills Dozens March 23, 2014