Tests for two 'potential' US Mers cases

Particles of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus that emerged in 2012 are seen in an undated colorized transmission electron micrograph

Related Stories

Two Florida healthcare workers who came in contact with a confirmed Mers case are being tested for the virus after beginning to show flu-like symptoms.

Officials at Dr P Phillips Hospital said one worker is in hospital and the second is being isolated in his home.

On Monday, the second US case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), which has killed at least 145 people elsewhere, was confirmed.

President Barack Obama has been briefed by his advisers on the two US cases.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "The president has been briefed on this development. The CDC [US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is taking the current situation very seriously and is working in close coordination with local health authorities."

The "imported cases" had been both healthcare workers from Saudi Arabia, the country where most of the deaths have occurred.

Health officials say Mers only appears to spread through close contact, but there is no known cure.

Risk to US 'low'

Hospital officials in Orlando told reporters the second confirmed US case had made a visit to the Orlando Regional Medical Center last week, but only to accompany another person having a medical procedure.

What is Mers?

  • It's a type of coronavirus
  • These cause respiratory infections in humans and animals
  • Symptoms include fever, cough and breathing difficulties
  • It can cause pneumonia and sometimes kidney failure
  • Experts believe the virus is not very contagious
  • They are unclear on the best treatment but advise good hand hygiene to prevent transmission

The patient, a healthcare worker who lived in Saudi Arabia, had symptoms at the time, but did not seek treatment.

He was later admitted to hospital on 8 May. He is said to be doing well and is isolated in hospital.

Five healthcare workers from the regional medical centre and another 15 from the Dr P Phillips Hospital are being tested for Mers, including the two who have developed symptoms.

Hospital officials said they are awaiting test results to confirm any secondary infections.

The CDC has said the overall risk to the US is "very low" and says it does not appear the virus has changed.

Mers causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia, and is a virus from the same family as Sars, severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed around 800 people worldwide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported a total of 536 cases of Mers since 2012, the majority inside Saudi Arabia, and 145 deaths.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.