The Associated Press contributed to this report
Health officials confirmed the second U.S. case of a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the second patient is a health care provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia and traveled from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London to Boston and Atlanta, and finally to Orlando.
The virus is MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death. A third of those who develop symptoms die from it.
“This second confirmed case of MERS in a person who worked in health care from an area of risk is not surprising,” said CDC director Tom Frieden. “To continue to strengthen our own health security, we need to increase our global ability to support other countries to help them find and stop threats such as MERS promptly, and to prevent them whenever possible.”
The patient reported feeling unwell during the flight from Jeddah to London and continued to feel unwell on subsequent flights with reported symptoms that include fever, chills and a slight cough.
Most cases have been in Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. But earlier this month a first U.S. case was diagnosed in a man who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.
It is not believed the Florida case is linked to the Indiana case.
The CDC advises that people follow these tips 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.
The CDC says it is not certain where the virus came from , however, it likely came from an animal source. In addition to humans, MERS-CoV has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and a bat in Saudi Arabia. There are no vaccines and no immediate treatment for the virus. At this time, the CDC does not recommend anyone change their travel plans. The CDC advises people traveling to the Arabian Peninsula who work in a healthcare setting to follow CDC’s recommendations for infection control.
Channel 2 Action News is working to get more information from the CDC and officials at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
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