MERS hits the midwest

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Hundreds of people overseas have become sick with this condition and some have died. But that serious virus is now showing up in the Midwest.

Health officials from around the globe are taking a closer look at the respiratory syndrome called MERS. Nearly 500 people from Saudi Arabia have tested positive for the condition with more than 150 people actually dying from it. “This is coming from people in close contact with camels or raw camel products but, also you see secondary cases, people who come in contact with people who have become primarily infected,” Mayo Clinic researcher in infectious disease Dr. Pritish Tosh said.

So far, there have been three cases confirmed in the U.S., with the most recent one happening over the weekend in Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control believes the risk for the general public is low, and that’s something we are seeing locally as well. “I think some general interest is important but I don’t think this is the time for panic or fear, ” Dr. Tosh said.

Tosh also said that officials should keep a close watch on some people. “To consider somebody coming from the Arabian Peninsula who may have a respiratory illness, may possibly have MERS and make sure we put them in isolation to prevent secondary transmission,” Dr. Tosh said.

Authorities are not sure if the virus is spread through droplets like coughing or sneezing or through close contact without someone.

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