CDC Tells Health Care Professionals To Look Out For MERS Cases

<p>MERS-CoV particles as seen by negative stain electron microscopy. Virions contain characteristic club-like projections emanating from the viral membrane.</p>

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking health care professionals in Oregon and across the nation, to keep an eye out for patients suffering from 'Middle East Respiratory Syndrome' or MERS.

The call comes after a second US case is identified -- this time in Florida.

MERS is viral illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia two years ago.

And in the jet age, viruses can travel quickly. It's a relative of the common cold, with symptoms including fever and cough. The CDC says there's been a substantial increase in MERS cases this spring and it wants U. S. doctors and nurses to be on the look out. But CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden says so far, the risk to the general public is extremely low.

"It is behaving relatively like the SARS Corona virus in that transmission requires close contact," said Frieden. "For example, caring for someone who is sick at home or sick at the hospital."

The second U.S. case of MERS involves a health care professional who lives and works in Saudi Arabia, and who flew to the U.S. at the beginning of May.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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