MERS reemerges Tuesday, this time at least 80 have made contact
By Shepard Ambellas
ORLANDO, Fl. (INTELLIHUB) — Two hospital workers, who were not wearing masks, were exposed to the highly deadly virus MERS recently after the patient passed through two hospitals, including Dr. Phillips Hospital.
At least one of the workers has been put into isolation and is being monitored closely as MERS has a rather long 5-day incubation period.
Other reports state that a second worker was also exposed to the infected patient as well and is being now isolated inside his residence by authorities.
Fox News reported:
Hospital officials said the MERS patient, who works in a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is doing well and currently has a low-grade fever and a slight cough.
MERS, which causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia, is a virus from the same family as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed around 800 people worldwide after it first appeared in China in 2002.
At least 20 medical workers from 2 facilities are undergoing tests for infection and more quarantines are expected.
To make matters worse, ABC News reported:
An estimated 80 other people who may have been exposed to the virus in waiting rooms at the two hospitals have also been contacted. The infected man was not wearing a mask despite his respiratory symptoms and a fever as high as 102 degrees, and did not inform hospital staff that he worked at a hospital in Saudi Arabia that treated MERS patients until after his arrival, officials said.
Dr. P. Phillips Hospital is a 237-bed full-service medical facility in Southwest Orange County, according to the hospital’s website. Just last year, its staff ran a safety exercise that involved a fictitious MERS case, according to Crespo, who called the exercise an “excellent drill.”
However, with a 5-day incubation period a pandemic outbreak is not out of the question.
“On May 2, 2014, the first U.S. case of MERS was confirmed in a traveler from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. The traveler is considered to be fully recovered and has been released from the hospital. Public health officials have contacted healthcare workers, family members, and travelers who had close contact with the patient. At this time, none of these contacts has had evidence of being infected with MERS-CoV.”, reported the Center for Disease Control.
Health officials say that early symptoms of the MERS include a cough, fever and chills diarrhea.
Emergency rooms are expected to be flooded in the coming weeks, either by false alarms or real cases.
The CDC has also posted MERS alerts at 21 airports across the country, as reported by CNN earlier Tuesday.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney even commented on the issue in a press conference Tuesday. “The President has been briefed on this development. The CDC is taking the current situation very seriously”, stated Carney in the press conference.
However, despite the President’s concern, local’s are now questioning where the Florida Dept. of Health has been during all of this as the State of Florida’s Fatality Management Response Plan clearly points out that the Florida Dept. of Health is supposed to take lead on such matters. So far the Dept. of Health has only released a confirmation dated May 12, 2014, documenting only one MERS case.
Moreover, others are asking the U.S. Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services to “take action”. As MERS may be a severe threat to our nation.
“This could spread all over the United States and could literally kill millions of people”, said Charles Walton who was commentating on the matter. Walton, went on to talk about the dangers of letting Middle Easterners into our country, as MERS is derived from the Middle East.
The World Health Organization has called for an emergency meeting Tuesday, claiming the general public has nothing to worry about.
The Chicago Tribune reported, “The WHO said its meeting with health and infectious disease experts was continuing later than planned, and that its conclusions would be announced at a press conference on Wednesday. The last time the agency set up an emergency committee was in response to the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic.”
MERS carries a 30% kill rate, meaning 1 of 3 people who contract the virus will die.
Update 12:50 am, May 14, 2014, via Yahoo News:
“Two of the 20 team members exposed to the confirmed MERS patient are showing symptoms,” said Geo Morales, spokesman for the Orlando hospital where one infected patient was treated.
“One of the two has been admitted to the hospital but is in stable condition. The other was treated and discharged and is following precautions at home. All 20 team members have been tested and we are expecting those results within the next day or two,” the spokesman added.