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CDC confirms first MERS virus case in America at Indiana hospital

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A mysterious illness that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East has made its way in the Chicago area. According to the ABC7 news website, an American man who flew into O'Hare airport last week is now hospitalized with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) at Community Hospital at Munster, Ind. That patient, who is from Indiana, was in good condition and in isolation last night. This is the first MERS virus case in America.

MERS is a relatively new virus originating in the Arabian peninsula, which is where the healthcare worker apparently became infected. On Thursday of last week, the man flew from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, and then London to O'Hare on an American Airlines flight before boarding a bus at the airport to a Highland, Ind., bus depot.

While it is a very serious virus, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of Illinois Department of Public Health says it is a rare one as well. "We want people to know this is a rare but very serious, very dangerous respiratory infection, number one. We want people to know that we are tracking it, he says. Officials say that MERS spreads like the common cold, but it is unclear exactly how contagious it is. It has reportedly killed about a hundred people, but that high death rate may be lower.

For more information on this virus as it develops, visit the ABC7 website http://abclocal.go.com.

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