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Second U.S. case of MERS confirmed

UPDATED 11:41 p.m.

There is a second confirmed case of Middle East respiratory syndrome imported into the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday.

Officials from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health are investigating. A news conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The first U.S. case was reported this month in Indiana. The second case has similar circumstances, according to the CDC, involving travel to Saudi Arabia.

The patient in Indiana was released from a hospital Friday into home isolation, according to state health officials.

Original story:

The first U.S. case of MERS-CoV has been reported in Indiana, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

MERS-CoV is short for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

MERS-CoV comes from the same group of viruses as the common cold and attacks the respiratory system, according to the CDC.

The CDC reported the infected patient was a healthcare worker who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.

A virus new to humans, it was first reported in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012.

NBC reported the World Health Organization has expressed alarm about the increase in reports of MERS.

MORE: Get more information on this virus from NBC News

According to the WHO, more than 250 confirmed cases and 93 deaths have been reported since the virus was identified in 2012.

Saudi Arabia alone has reported 371 cases with 107 deaths, the WHO reported.

Although many of the cases have occurred on the Arabian Peninsula, people have died of the infection elsewhere, including in European countries and Tunisia in North Africa.

Egypt also reported a case Thursday, according to the World Health Organization.

NBC News reported MERS worries health experts because it’s related to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which swept around the world in 2003, infecting around 8,000 people and killing close to 800 before it was stopped.

The most recent research traces it to camels, although most cases seem to be spread from one person to another.

While MERS kills about a third of the patients who show symptoms, some people have been found later to have been infected but they never got sick.

Most of those who have been severely ill have been elderly or had other illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease.

The CDC and the Indiana State Department of Heath are conducting a joint investigation of the first case of MERS-CoV in the United States.

Q&A about MERS from the CDC:

Q: What is MERS?

A: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV).

Q: What is MERS-CoV?

A: MERS-CoV is a beta coronavirus. It was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. MERS-CoV used to be called “novel coronavirus,” or “nCoV”. It is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.

Q: Is MERS-CoV the same as the SARS virus?

A: No. MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, MERS-CoV is most similar to coronaviruses found in bats. CDC is still learning about MERS.

Q: What are the symptoms of MERS?

A: Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Q: Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?

A: MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact.[1] Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in several countries are being investigated.

Q: How can I help protect myself?

A: CDC advises that people follow these tips to help prevent respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

Q: Is there a vaccine?

A: No, but the CDC is talking with partners about the possibility of developing one.

Q: What are the treatments?

A: There are no specific treatments recommended for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.

MORE: Get more on this illness from WXIN