The first case of the MERS virus hit the U.S. a couple of weeks ago. Health officials are now reporting that the infection rate has increased despite efforts to contain it.
Three MERS infections have now been confirmed in the United States and authorities are waiting to see how much this may spread.
The third infection was caused by a simple handshake exchanged between the man who originally brought MERS to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia and the businessman who is the latest MERS patient. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the businessman is doing fine and does not have a deadly case of MERS.
Authorities are mainly concerned about the way this case shows how easily MERS can be spread. Dr. Swerdlow of the CDC issued a statement saying, “This latest development does not change CDC’s current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS. It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for the MERS-CoV infection but not get seriously sick.”
The latest case was found by health officials who were tracking down every person that the original patient had been in contact with since returning from Saudi Arabia. “In both cases, the men were health care workers who came from Saudi Arabia and traveled on planes and other forms of public transportation to get home. The Indiana case is a health care worker in his 60s who was hospitalized April 28 and then diagnosed with MERS. In the Florida case, the 44-year-old man went to an Orlando emergency room, where he may have exposed others to the virus. MERS is spread through close contact, health officials say, and there’s no evidence of sustained transmission in public settings,” according to NBC.
The two men who spread the disease through a handshake were fairly close during their meeting thus causing the dissemination. NBC reports, “In the case of the Illinois patient, ‘close contact’ included a 30- to 40-minute, face-to-face business meeting. The two also held another, briefer meeting in the days before the Indiana man tested positive. Local health officials reached out to the Illinois man and tested him for active infection on May 5, with negative results. But blood samples in a test returned May 16 showed evidence of MERS antibodies, indicating recent infection. CDC officials are continuing to reach out to, test and monitor people who have come into contact with the three U.S. residents with evidence of infection.”