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First U.S. MERS Victim Is In Recovery, Hasn't Spread Virus

The first confirmed victim of MERS in the U.S. is recovering well, and the virus does not appear to have spread to anyone else.
Posted at 6:32 PM, May 05, 2014

"There is no evidence of sustained transmission of this virus." (Via WRTV)

Health officials in Indiana told reporters Monday the first patient in the U.S. infected with the deadly MERS virus appears to be getting better and has not spread the infection to anyone else.

MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a coronavirus that attacks the respiratory system, first discovered in Saudia Arabia in 2012. The World Health Organization has reported almost 300 cases of MERS so far, 92 of which have been fatal. There is currently no cure. (Via Centerfor Disease Control)

The virus appeared in the U.S. for the first time last Friday, when an American health care worker returned from Saudi Arabia. He's been isolated in an Indiana hospital, and anyone he came in close contact with is being tested. (Via MSNBC, WXIN)

Doctors have been worried about the spread of MERS overseas ever since it was first discovered. The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told The Telegraph, MERS was inevitably going to spread to the U.S.

"I'm not surprised at all, given the amount of travel and air traffic between people in the United States and people in the Middle East. So, I mean there's no question that sooner or later something like this was going to happen."

Fortunately, MERS isn't easily transmissible between humans, and none of the people tested in the U.S. have shown symptoms. The original patient is reportedly no longer dependent on oxygen and should be discharged soon. (Via WTVW)

State and federal officials praised the hospital's quick and thorough response to the virus Monday. Indiana's state health commissioner told reporters "At this point, it appears MERS picked the wrong hospital, the wrong state, the wrong country to try to get a foothold." (Via USA Today)

Since the incubation period for MERS can be anywhere from 2 to 14 days, doctors are planning to keep the infected patient and anyone he came in contact with under observation for at least two weeks.