The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed the first case of the deadly MERS virus in the United States. It has been confirmed that a case of the virus has surfaced in Indiana. The virus has been affecting the Middle East, especially health workers. Saudi Arabia has been the main epicenter of the virus, but just last week the virus surfaced in Egypt for the first time. The virus has been affecting Saudi Arabia for nearly two years. Over four hundred people have contracted the disease and around one hundred have died. The CDC has said that this disease poses a “very low risk to the broader, general public.” The patient flew on a flight from Saudi Arabia last week, and the CDC is attempting to track down individuals from the flight to prevent any further infections.
Health officials on Friday confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.
The man fell ill after flying to the U.S. late last week from Saudi Arabia where he was a health care worker.
He is hospitalized in good condition in northwest Indiana with Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Indiana health officials, who are investigating the case.
The virus is not highly contagious and this case “represents a very low risk to the broader, general public,” Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters during a CDC briefing.
The federal agency plans to track down passengers he may have been in close contact with during his travels; it was not clear how many may have been exposed to the virus.
So far, it is not known how he was infected, Schuchat said.
Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a Middle East outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The virus has spread among health care workers, most notably at four facilities in that county last spring.
Officials didn’t provide details about the American’s job in Saudi Arabia or whether he treated MERS patients.
Overall, at least 400 people have had the respiratory illness, and more than 100 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there.
Experts said it was just a matter of time before MERS showed up in the U.S., as it has in Europe and Asia.
“Given the interconnectedness of our world, there’s no such thing as `it stays over there and it can’t come here,'” said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University MERS expert.
MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003.