A scary new virus is roaming the globe. It's called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. The first confirmed case in the U.S. was reported May 2 in Indiana, but it didn't stop there. Today, a second U.S. case of MERS was confirmed in Orlando, Florida. That's got a lot of us worried. How contagious is this illness? How dangerous is it? And what exactly is MERS, anyway? Here's 8 things you need to know about the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.
1. According to the Centers for Disease Control, MERS is a viral respiratory illness first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and cough.
2. MERS can lead to severe respiratory illness in most patients, and of those cases about 30 percent have died.
3. Officials say the second case of MERS is not related to the first. The patient had recently traveled from Saudi Arabia. In other words, it does not appear to be spreading in the U.S. at this time despite this second case.
4. There is no vaccine for MERS.
5. MERS is spread through close contact with infected people. "This virus has not shown the ability to spread easily from person to person in community settings," says Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general with the U.S. Public Health Service and director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
6. The MERS patient in Indiana has been released from the hospital and is recovering "in isolation" at home. The Florida MERS patient is "doing well" in a Florida hospital, also isolated. This person was a health care provider (as was the Indiana patient) who lives and works in Saudi Arabia.
7. The CDC is investigating both cases, tracing back to everyone the patients may have had contact with to make sure no one else was infected.
8. Should we be worried? The CDC says no; MERS does not pose a threat to the general public. But they are still "concerned."
Are you worried that MERS will spread further in the U.S.?
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