A second case of MERS has been confirmed on Monday by the officials. The latest case has been identified in the state of Florida. The U.S. CDC has confirmed the second case of MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome with the healthcare officials from Florida.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV).
The CDC has also confirmed that it is the second imported case of MERS which means the patient was infected in a foreign land and carried it to the shores of US. The first case of MERS was also imported and involved a person working as a healthcare worker in Saudi Arabia before he flew in from Riyadh to Indiana.
The first patient has since recovered and had been discharged after he was tested negative for the virus. The CDC has also checked the airline and bus manifesto to check if the man could have infected others who had been in contact with him. Thankfully no one has been tested positive for the virus.
The patient has now been declared free of the virus and was released on Friday. The hospital workers who had treated the patient will however have to remain in isolation for the 14 days incubation period before they are checked for the virus again. Though the MERS virus has been found to be transferred from person to person and to healthcare workers, it is not as virulent as SARS and is not easily transferable to the general population.
At this time, care is mostly supportive, with oxygen intravenous fluids and ventilatory support including intubation in case of impending respiratory failure. Intravenous antibiotics in the setting of pneumonia may be useful if there is a concern for a secondary bacterial infection.
While we don’t know how exactly the virus is spread among persons, single hump dromedary camels have been confirmed as a known source of the virus, harboring genetically similar strains of MERS in patients with confirmed illness. Bats have also been suggested as another possible means of transmission.
Meanwhile the virus continues to take its toll in Saudi Arabia with the number of infected persons reaching 473. The virus has killed 133 persons since it was identified nearly two years ago. MERS belongs and belongs to the same coronavirus family which also includes the common cold and SARS virus which caused 800 deaths around the globe in 2003.
Camel meat or unpasteurized camel milk has been theorized to be a potential source, along the secretions of the camel’s saliva or spit. The MERS virus also has the ability to survive on surfaces and spread if people have contact with an infected surface.
One should follow the following measures as suggested by the CDC to help prevent respiratory illnesses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
There are no specific treatments recommended for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.