First Reports of MERS in United States
May 15, 2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States earlier this month, and a second case was confirmed this week. The CDC has been preparing for this possibility since MERS first appeared in Saudi Arabia in April 2012. MERS has a 30% mortality rate.
Cases of MERS have increased significantly in recent weeks, leading some to believe the virus is changing and is more easily passed between people. A doctor at the CDC is quoted as saying “it took us over a year to get the first hundred cases of this viral infection. Now in just the last two weeks, we've had a hundred cases.”
The CDC’s Health Alert Network bulletin on May 3 detailed what healthcare professionals should look for with potential MERS patients, who is most at risk, what tests to perform, and what to do if MERS is suspected in a patient.
Because of these first United States cases and the uptick in recent cases, all first responders, medical and public health staff, people working in the airline industry, and the general public should know the signs and symptoms of MERS. The CDC published guidance for these audiences, available at the CDC’s MERS web site.