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First Case of MERS Confirmed in the US, CDC Reports

Update Date: May 03, 2014 10:08 AM EDT
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The first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been confirmed in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the case was seen in a male health care worker who recently returned from Saudi Arabia.

The officials stated that the patient from northwest Indiana is hospitalized and is in good condition. He is currently isolated from other patients. The patient had a flight on April 24 before landing in Chicago where he took a bus to Indiana. He started feeling ill on April 27 and went to the emergency room at the Community Hospital in Munster the following day. At the hospital, doctors tested for and confirmed MERS.

The CDC will work to track down the passengers that the patient might have come into close contact with throughout his travels. The hospital will keep an eye on the patient's family and all the health care workers that have been treating him. The report did not reveal whether or not the man worked with MERS patients in Saudi Arabia. Even though MERS can be transferred between humans, evidence suggests that it would have to be very close contact.

"[The patient] represents a very low risk to the broader, general public," Dr. Anne Schuchat stated reported in ABC News.

MERS is a viral respiratory disease that was first confirmed in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, MERS has spread to other countries. Symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Around 30 percent of the cases resulted in death. Overall, at least 400 people have contracted that virus and over 100 of them have died.

Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University MERS expert, said, "Given the interconnectedness of our world, there's no such thing as 'it stays over there and it can't come here."

Officials remind people who have visited countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula to see a doctor immediately if they feel any symptoms.

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