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CDC posts MERS warning at U.S. airports after more cases emerge

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday plans to post MERS virus warnings at U.S. airports after two more suspected cases emerge in the United States.

Two Orlando health workers fell ill after exposure to second MERS patient on Monday.
Courtesy of anomalies.net

On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health said two healthcare workers at an Orlando, Florida hospital who were exposed to a patient diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome on Monday are now experiencing flu-like symptoms, and one of the two has been hospitalized.

Officials at the Dr. P. Phillips Hospital said the two healthcare workers were exposed to the second MERS patient diagnosed in the U.S. in the emergency room before it became clear that he might be infected with the potentially deadly virus.

On Monday, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health confirmed a second case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in a health care worker from Saudi Arabia. It is the second case of the potentially deadly virus reported inside the United States in eleven days.

CDC officials announced the first known case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States on May 2, in a patient admitted to Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana. The man, also traveling from Saudi Arabia was immediately isolated and hospital staff is credited with preventing the virus from spreading. The patient made a full recovery and has since been released from the hospital, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

MERS originated in Saudi Arabia and spread to other Middle Eastern countries. However, the discovery of sporadic cases in Britain, Greece, France, Italy, Malaysia and other countries, and now the United States has raised concerns about the potential global spread of the disease by infected airline passengers.

There is no vaccine for MERS, and around a third of the 483 known cases worldwide resulted in death after patients contracted the mysterious upper respiratory infection. On the CDC's official website, a list of symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, breathing problems, which can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the CDC has developed nine preparedness goals intended to measure state and local public health jurisdictions’ preparedness and response to bio-terrorism, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and other public health threats and emergencies. Previously, 163 suspected cases of MERS were tested in the U.S. but none confirmed.

The MERS virus has been found in camels, but healthcare officials and global researchers admit they are puzzled as to how it MERS is spread to humans. It can spread from person to person, but officials believe that happens only after close contact. Not everyone that is exposed to the virus become ill.

CDC officials recommend hand washing and not touching the face, and asks anyone who has recently traveled from the Middle East region that develops MERS-like symptoms to seek help immediately.