Second MERS Case Reported in Florida

MERSThe officials from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health have confirmed on May 12, 2014, the second imported case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States. The second U.S. incidence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was reported in a hospital in Orlando, Florida.

In a statement released on May 12, 2014, the Director of CDC said the new reports were unwelcome but not unexpected. The first case of MERS was reported earlier this month in Indiana. The patient was an American healthcare provider who had been working in Saudi Arabia. As per state health officials, that patient was released from hospital into home isolation.

The second MERS patient reported is also a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia. The 44-year-old Florida patient was travelling from Saudi Arabia on May 1, 2014 to Orlando. The man began feeling unwell on the flight with symptoms including fever, chills and slight cough. On May 8, the patient visited Orlando’s Dr. P. Phillips Hospital and was admitted in the emergency department. According to hospital authorities, the man is in good condition and is continuing to improve.

Transcribing emergency room reports for infectious diseases is very crucial as it helps to maintain well-organized patient records that are absolutely vital for ensuring better quality care for patients in hospitals and medical emergency centers.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a member of the same family of viruses (corona viruses) responsible for the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and common cold which had infected around 8,000 people globally in the year 2003-2004. MERS was identified first in Saudi Arabia in the year 2012 and has been consequently observed throughout the Middle East but in Europe and Asia as well.

Since MERS virus identification in 2012, there have been more than 530 confirmed cases worldwide including 174 deaths (as per the reports of the WHO). One fifth of those cases were detected in healthcare providers. The main symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, gastrointestinal symptoms and respiratory distress along with development of pneumonia and kidney failure in certain cases. However, those persons who have died were more likely to have suffered from other chronic diseases such as diabetes and pre-existing kidney disease.

Greater surveillance and tracking of the virus is essential for identifying large number of cases. Besides, more number of milder cases of MERS is being identified now which in a way helps to reduce the high mortality rate. In most of the cases, the data collected confirm that patients detected with this infectious disease would usually have been in prolonged and close contact, as opposed to casual contact. In fact, more than 20 percent of the total cases reported included healthcare workers who were in close contact and proximity to the infected patients.

The bottom line is that no evidence implicating the origination of MERS virus is known. But, in a recently published study in mBio, researchers claim that they separated live MERS virus from two single-humped camels, known as dromedaries. Researchers spotted multiple substrains in the camel viruses, including one that perfectly matches a substrain found from a human patient.

Currently, CDC recommends frequent hand washing (for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer) to control the spreading of MERS virus. Also, people are advised not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and to disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Julie Clements

About Julie Clements

Joined the MOS team in March of 2008. Julie Clements has background in the healthcare staffing arena; as well as 6 years as Director of Sales and Marketing at a 4 star resort. Julie was instrumental in the creation of the medical record review division (and new web site); and has especially grown this division along with data conversion of all kinds.