We are reminded of how small the world is when we see a breaking news report on our phones of a second MERS-CoV case in the U.S. CDC reports that this time it is a Saudi Arabia health worker who traveled to Orlando, Florida has tested positive for the deadly MERS coronavirus, the second case ever confirmed within the United States.
The CDC told reporters at a news conference that health officials were notifying more than 500 people who may have come in contact with the patient during a series of plane flights this month.
On May 1, the patient traveled by plane from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London, England, to Boston, Massachusetts, to Atlanta, Georgia, and to Orlando, Florida. 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. On May 9, the patient went to the emergency department of a hospital in Florida and was admitted the same day. The patient is isolated, being well cared for, and is currently doing well.
The good news is that up to this point, the disease did not appear to be highly contagious. Though there is no vaccine for the virus, and death has resulted in 27% of documented cases. The agency noted that notification of exposed airline passengers was being conducted out of an “abundance of caution,”
The most recent case does not appear to be linked to an earlier case in Indiana,. which also involved a healthcare worker who had traveled to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia. Although it is believed to have originated in camels, the exact origin of the disease remains a mystery. To date, health authorities in the Middle East and Europe have documented 538 lab-confirmed cases, 145 of which have resulted in death. Roughly 20% of the confirmed illnesses have involved healthcare workers.