A first case of the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) – which has killed more than 100 people in Saudi Arabia – has been detected in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed.
The male patient traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, where he changed flights at Heathrow airport to fly to the United States. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.
On April 27, he experienced respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man visited the emergency department at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28 and was admitted that same day.
Because of his travel history, Indiana health officials tested him for MERS, and sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the presence of the virus on Friday.
It has raised new concerns about the spread of the respiratory disease in the Middle East and beyond.
It is similar to the SARS virus that emerged in China over a decade ago and killed some 800 people.
“We have done (a) campaign for the nurses who are working in the school, because there is more crowd in the university and the school,” said Dr Hussain Abdul Rhaman Al Rand, the Health Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Health Centres and Clinics in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “Until now, there is no any vaccine available to be given against this virus or any antibiotic or treatment.”
Little is known about the coronavirus, as it is known.
It has been found in bats and camels – the animals most likely to have infected humans, according to experts.
Officials complain that a lack of cooperation between countries is hampering research.
Euronews correspondent in Dubai, François Chignac, said: “On the one hand, the Ministries of Health in the Gulf countries claim that the situation is under control, nevertheless we must not forget that some of these countries have a high potential for tourism. On the other hand, we have the World Health Organisation which is no longer hiding its concern.”