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Second US MERS Case Confirmed

May 12, 2014 03:42 PM EDT
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The Florida Department of Health has officially confirmed a that second case of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS)  has been diagnosed in the US. The case, which was identified in a patient in Florida state, has been verified as an "imported" instance of the viral infection, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Florida department of health confirmed the second case Monday morning, scheduling an official teleconference for that afternoon. Little has been said about the case aside from the fact that the patient and health care workers who were exposed to the virus have been isolated. The CDC has also reported that it is in the midst of screening people who potentially made contact with the patient prior to his or her diagnoses.

This is now a practiced process for the United States, who has already seen one imported case of MERS. That case, which was diagnosed in Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., has already been resolved. The MERS patient in question, a man who has been working as a health professional in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, had returned to the US to see his family. Upon his return he was admitted to Community Hospital after complaining of symptoms of a respiratory infection. As it is hospital policy to isolate potential cases of any respiratory infection, MERS or otherwise, the patient made minimal contact with anyone before the official diagnoses was made. This made containment of potential MERS exposure relatively simple for Indiana and CDC officials, who screened and cleared both the man and any exposed health professionals on Tuesday.

The MERS virus has recently been sweeping across the Arab peninsula, affect primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - where the virus is theorized to have originated.

It remains unclear to health officials how exactly the virus spreads, but a recent World Health Organization (WHO) investigation has revealed that despite an increased prevalence of cases, the virus itself has not become more contagious since it was first identified in 2012.

In light of that news, the WHO has declared that it will not be recommending any restrictions to international travel, stating that any imported instances of the virus, such as this most recent US case, and another seen in Lebanon are unlikely to spark an outbreak.

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