Nicole Krause Staff Writer
This first case of a potentially deadly new disease has been found in the United States, officials from the Centre for Disease Control confirmed this week.
Known as MERS-CoV, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, is an acute viral infection which causes cough, shortness of breath and fever in the infected and can lead to complications including pneumonia There is no vaccine, no cure and no known treatment for the disease, which is fatal in about 30% of cases. Some have described it as the more deadly cousin of SARS which spread throughout Asia in 2003, infecting 8273 people.
According to the CDC, 401 people in 12 countries have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV including the US patient.
Although very few details about the infected patient have been released, including name, gender or location, the CDC did confirm that the patient was a health care worker, who became ill after visiting Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They are currently being cared for in an Indiana hospital and are reported to be “isolated in a stable condition” after test results confirmed the infection on Friday.
CDC Officials are now working with the Department of Homeland Security to locate other people who may have come in contact with the infected person, who flew from Riyadh to London, before boarding a flight to Chicago, Illinois and a public bus to Indiana.
However, officials have moved to assure people that a large-scale outbreak in the US is unlikely given that the virus is not considered highly contagious and is only spread through close contact with an infected individual. Research also suggests that the virus might have originated from infected camels, although it is not known whether the infected person had contact with the animals while in Saudi Arabia.
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