October 21, 2014

Health officials search for cause and treatment of virus

There have been two confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States. University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Dr. Mark Rupp is with the Internal Medicine Division and says while there is no need to panic it is something to be aware of. Public health officials are working on prevention and control measures and determining how it is spread and the source. It appears that all cases of MERS have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula.

Statistics show there have been confirmed cases in 14 countries impacting about 600 people. Two cases have been confirmed in the U-S. Experts say the cases here are not related. One was in Florida and the other in Indiana. Both patients had recently traveled from Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Rupp says, “Evidence suggests that camels play a role in this and maybe bats. This is similar to the SARS corona virus a few years ago that took off from central China and spread around the world.”

At this time the CDC does not recommend anyone change their travel plans but people traveling to the Arabian Peninsula should practice infection control. There is no available vaccine or treatment for the virus that causes fever, cough and shortness of breath. There have been about 150 deaths connected to MERS.