A second U.S. case of the deadly MERS virus is under investigation in Florida, health officials said today.
Details of the case are unclear, but the infection was imported from abroad, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The case comes two weeks after an American man was hospitalized with symptoms of the respiratory virus in Indiana. The man, whose name has not been released, was working as a health care provider in Saudi Arabia before traveling by plane to London and Chicago and by bus to Munster, Indiana. He was discharged from the hospital Friday in what health officials hoped would mark the end of MERS in the U.S.
“These so-called distant threats are much closer to us than they might appear at first glance. That’s because all these viruses are only a plane ride away,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.
The U.S. is the latest of 15 countries to report cases of MERS. Saudi Arabia, which is ground zero for the outbreak, has reported 491 cases and 147 deaths related to SARS-like virus.
MERS symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, can take up to two weeks to appear. Dozens of hospital employees who had contact with the country's first MERS patient were placed in home isolation out of "an abundance of caution," according to the CDC. So far all of them have tested negative for the virus.