Health: 3 Confirmed MERS Cases In United States; First Case Of Person To Person Transmission

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One victim infected with the MERS virus is released from the hospital.  This comes as officials announce the virus has spread from one person to another for the first time in the United States, bringing the total number of cases here to three.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the latest on the situation.

MERS is a potentially fatal virus that has not been reported in our tristate area.  But the Pennsylvania Medical Society hosted a MERS teleconference to talk about how hospitals are preparing for any potential cases and urging increased vigilance by healthcare workers.

“There are some people that get very, very sick.  Some people who get sick, mildly sick and then there are even some people who don’t get sick at all,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an Infectious Disease Specialist.

The first two cases in the United States were people who got infected in Saudi Arabia and flew back here.  One case in Florida, the other in Indiana.

Now there’s a third confirmed case.

Health officials say an Illinois man, who did not require medical care, had business dealings with the Indiana MERS patient.

“They were in the same breathing zone, the two of them, this is the kind of thing that will happen from time to time,” said Dr. Schaffner.

The CDC says during the April 25th meeting, the two men were sitting within six feet of each other talking.  The only physical contact they had was shaking hands.  They also met again a day later.

This is the first time the virus has spread from person to person in the United States.

The symptoms are mainly flu like with an especially bad cough and fever.

Officials continue to say the public is at low risk for contracting MERS.  At this point there is no treatment, but researchers here in Philadelphia are working on a vaccine.

CDC MERS Information- http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/index.html?s_cid=cdc_homepage_whatsnew_003

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