A second case of the deadly respiratory illness known as MERS has been discovered in the United States, health officials confirmed Monday.
The new case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, reported in Florida, comes 10 days after the first case of the virus was reported in the country. The first patient, a man who lived in Saudi Arabia and traveled to Chicago on a planned trip to visit family, recovered from the illness and was released from the hospital over the weekend.
The Florida patient is a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia and began feeling sick on a flight to London, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health said at a news conference Monday.
The patient traveled on to Boston and Atlanta before arriving in Orlando on May 1, the CDC said. The patient was visiting family and didn't go to any of the area theme parks, officials said.
On May 8, the patient was hospitalized. Tests by the CDC confirmed the MERS Sunday night. The patient remains isolated in the hospital and is doing well, the CDC said.
MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and a syndrome known as SARS, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003. Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a Middle East outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The virus has spread among health care workers, most notably at four facilities in that country last spring.
Overall, at least 400 people have had the respiratory illness, and more than 100 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there.
Officials said the disease isn't highly contagious, but there is no cure.
The MERS virus has been found in camels, but officials don't know how it is spreading to humans. It can spread from person to person, but officials believe that happens only after close contact. Not all those exposed to the virus become ill.
Officials said the risk is relatively low for the Florida case but they are doing everything possible to find people who may have had contact with the patient. They are tracking down the 500 or so passengers who may have been on the three flights in the U.S. out of an abundance of caution.