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First Case Of Dangerous MERS Virus Reported In U.S.

Health officials have reported the first case of MERS in the U.S. — an unidentified doctor from Indiana who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia.
Posted at 8:23 AM, May 03, 2014

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a dangerous, sometimes fatal virus only seen in the Middle East and Europe — until now. (Via National Institutes of Health)

"MERS is in the heartland. An American doctor from Indiana who had been working in Saudi Arabia came down with symptoms on April 27. The next day, he was in the hospital, barely able to breathe." (Via Fox News)

The Indiana State Department of Health told the Indianapolis Star, the unidentified patient was admitted to a hospital in Munster Monday after visiting the emergency room there.

And on Friday, doctors say test results showed the patient was infected with the coronavirus known as MERS and immediately quarantined. (Via Euronews)

According to the CDC, the MERS virus is a relatively new one. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and is characterized by fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Since then, the World Health Organization confirmed infections in 262 people in 12 different European countries. Out of those reported cases, 93 people have died.

According to CNN, the Saudi Ministry of Health has reported 339 cases and said nearly a third of those have lost their lives. But not all of those cases have been confirmed by the World Health Organization.

Health experts told NBC it was only a matter of time before MERS made its way to the U.S. But officials say there's no reason to panic.

"There has not been a clear case of person to person transmission outside of the health care setting yet. So I think we need to keep this in perspective." (Via NBC)

But as a precaution, Indiana state and federal health officials say they are working to locate anyone who might have been in contact with the infected Indiana doctor. (Via CDC)

Indiana Governor Mike Pence told the Indianapolis Star, "I want to assure every Hoosier that we have deployed the full resources of the Indiana State Department of Health to engage in tracking this case, assessing the risk to the public and working to prevent the spread of this virus."

The CDC says it's also checking all health care workers who helped treat the patient, who is currently in good condition. The organization is not recommending anyone change travel plans but is advising people to practice standard good hygine.