NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials have confirmed a second U.S. case of a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.
The latest case is not an American – he is a resident of Saudi Arabia, visiting Florida, who is now in an Orlando hospital.
He was diagnosed with MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Sunday night. It is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.
Fortunately, the U.S. cases so far have not been severe. The first case, a man in Indiana, was released from a hospital late last week. And the second patient is doing well, officials said. The two cases are not linked, officials said.
“The risk to the public remains very low,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.
Most cases have been in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East. But earlier this month a first U.S. case was diagnosed in a man who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.
That man, an American, was a health-care worker at a hospital in Saudi Arabia’s capital city who flew to the United States on April 24 on a plane that originated in Riyadh, stopped in London and then landed in Chicago. The man took a bus to Munster, Indiana where he became sick and went to a hospital on April 28.
He improved and was released from a Munster hospital on Friday. Tests of people who were around the man have all proved negative, health officials have said.
Health officials now must track down fellow travelers who were around the newest case, and this time it will be more challenging: There were more flights involved.
This man also was a health-care worker at a hospital where MERS cases were being treated, the CDC said. He traveled on May 1 on flights from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, first to London, then to Boston, then to Atlanta, and finally to Orlando. He went to a hospital on May 8 and was placed in isolation.
The first flight was Saudi Airlines flight 113 to London, according to a Public Health England press release. The U.S. government did not identify the flight information for the other legs.
Health officials did not immediately release additional detail about his travels or his week in Florida, except to say he was not at any theme parks and remained in the Orlando area to see family.