Deadly MERS Virus Makes First U.S. Appearance

medical medicine health

(CNN) — The first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has been reported in Indiana, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC and the Indiana State Department of Health are conducting a joint investigation into the case, according to a CDC statement.

Federal and state health officials on Friday released only limited information about the U.S. case: On April 24, the man flew from Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city – to the United States, with a stop in London. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to the neighboring state of Indiana. He didn’t become sick until Sunday, the CDC said.

The coronavirus, known as MERS-CoV, was first reported in the Middle East — specifically, the Arabian Peninsula — in 2012.

Since then, it has sickened 339 people in Saudi Arabia alone and killed nearly a third of them, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health. Late last month, Saudi officials noted a spike in new cases.

MERS-CoV comes from the same group of viruses as the common cold and attacks the respiratory system, according to the CDC.

Symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

Although many of the cases have occurred on the Arabian Peninsula, people have died of the infection elsewhere, including in European countries and Tunisia in North Africa. Egypt also reported a case on Thursday, according to the World Health Organization.

However, all of the people involved contracted the disease in the Middle East before being diagnosed. Limited human-to-human transmission of the disease has also occurred in other countries.

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