The MERS virus has reached US and the public health system is on its toes. The MERS virus was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Though MERS is much akin to SARS, it has a higher death rate than the latter and is also less contagious.
The MERS patient had arrived at the hospital with fever and a nagging cough which looked like pneumonia. However the suspicion of the Doctors was increased when they learned that the patient was a health care worker in Saudi Arabia. They started to suspect something more serious. In the press it was reported that the patient had travelled in a bus from Chicago to Indiana on April 27th. The bus trip was actually made on April 24th, the same day when he arrived from Saudi Arabia, it was reliably learnt.
US had its first case of MERS. The swabs from the man’s nose and mouth confirmed it. It was a nightmare which was long feared but no one wanted to see. The next few days were very hectic with investigators trying to track down every person who was in close contact with the MERS patient who was described as elderly person. The investigators pored over the passenger manifests, credit card receipts and other clues to trace persons who rode with the patient on the bus he took from the airport to Northwestern Indiana.
In 112 persons have been traced and thankfully no has been tested positive for the virus. More than 50 hospital workers who have been in contact with the patient are in isolation as a precautionary measure. The relatives who had come to visit the patient in Indiana have also been quarantined.
The patient was cleared to leave the hospital and permission to travel on Friday. Meanwhile the deadly MERS epidemic continues to kill victims in Saudi Arabia with 7 more patients succumbing to the virus.