Healthcare Business News

Second MERS case in U.S. reported in Fla.

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: May 12, 2014 - 2:45 pm ET

(Story updated at 2:50 p.m. ET.)

A second U.S. case of MERS has been confirmed in Florida, and it is unrelated to the recent case in Indiana, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health said Monday.

Calling it “the unwelcome but not unexpected news” of a second U.S. incidence of the Middle East respiratory syndrome, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a news briefing that the Florida case involves a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia and traveled from that country to Florida on May 1.

On May 8, this person visited a Florida hospital's emergency room and was admitted the same day, Frieden said.

The Florida case is not linked to the first U.S. MERS case reported in Indiana early this month, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general over the U.S. Public Health Service and director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

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The first U.S. patient to have the MERS virus was released May 9 from Community Hospital in Munster, Ind. The patient was a healthcare worker at a hospital in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh who had just arrived in the U.S. days earlier to visit family.

The hospital tested the patient for MERS after learning of his travel history.

The MERS virus tends to spread through close contact, and patients develop fever, cough and shortness of breath within as many as 14 days following exposure. The condition has been most concerning among the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and healthcare workers who have been in close contact with an infected person.

The patient had flown from Saudi Arabia to London and then on to Boston, Atlanta and finally Orlando. More than 500 passengers on the U.S. flights have been contacted, and told of and asked to watch for MERs symptoms, Schuchat said. UK officials are contacting passengers on the flight which landed in London.

Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando, the Florida facility treating the patient, will provide more details at a press event later this afternoon.

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