CDC: First case of MERS contracted in the United States; Here’s how to protect yourself

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The CDC says an Illinois man caught the sometimes-deadly virus after “close contact” with an Indiana man who had contracted it.

The Indiana victim was diagnosed with the flu-like illness returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia.

The agency says the Illinois resident did not require medical care.

But health officials have been monitoring his condition since May 3rd as part of the investigation.

The World Health Organization has confirmed nearly 600 cases of MERS, including 171 deaths.

Middle east respiratory syndrome was first diagnosed in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012 and has since spread to 18 countries.

Here’s what you need to know:

MERS does not appear to spread easily between humans like the flu, for example. The risk to the general public remains low, according to the CDC.

It takes close contact with a sick person, usually a healthcare worker or a loved one, to catch the virus.

MERS is in the same family of viruses such as the common cold. MERS attacks the respiratory system.

Symptoms include fever and cough and can progress to pneumonia and kidney failure.

Experts don’t know exactly where the virus came from, but it has been linked to infected camels in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the middle east.

There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent or cure MERS.

To help protect yourself the CDC advises people to wash their hands, not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands. The CDC also says to avoid close contact with sick people.

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