Officials: Second US case of MERS being reported

Officials: Second US case of MERS being reported
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A second case of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) has been identified in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the new patient is being treated at an Orlando, Florida hospital. This latest case is not connected to the first US case, which surfaced in Munster, Indiana last week. That patient was a health care worker who had recently traveled from Saudi Arabia. He was discharged last week.

The new case in Florida is also a health care worker. The patient is from Saudi Arabia visiting family. Florida's secretary of health says the patient had not visited any theme parks while in Orlando. The patient, who went to the hospital last Thursday, is recovering but remains in the hospital. The MERS diagnosis was confirmed Sunday night.

Public health experts say finding MERS in the United States was not unexpected.

"Diseases are spreading all over the world, and we're all connected by the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the airplanes we ride on," said Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director.

In the latest case, the patient flew into Boston, then Atlanta and finally to Orlando on May 1, 2014. The CDC is trying to contact about 500 passengers on those three planes.

So far, no one who has come into contact with the Indiana patient has developed the illness.

Worldwide, MERS has killed at least 145 people. There is no specific anti-viral treatment and no vaccine. Experts say the virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, and the CDC believes the overall risk to the general public is low.

Over 150 patients have been tested for MERS in the US. So far only two have tested positive.

About MERS

MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death. A third of those who develop symptoms die from it. 

We have more information on the virus on the CDC's website.