Valdosta Daily Times

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May 16, 2014

Nine things you need to know about MERS

(Continued)

- — A: No one else has gotten sick so far from the Indiana case. U.S. officials contacted people who traveled on the same flights from Riyadh through London to Chicago, and attempted to contact people who shared the same bus to Highland, Ind. The hospital also sent home about 50 employees and kept them isolated until the hospital was sure they did not have MERS.

In Florida, up to 100 people may have come into contact with the 44-year-old patient, including 20 hospital personnel at two hospitals. Two employees of Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando where the patient was admitted May 8 have flu-like symptoms and are awaiting tests to see if they have the virus.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are trying to contact more than 500 people in 20 states who may have been exposed to the patient and international authorities are doing the same overseas. The man left Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 1, and flew to London, then on to Boston, Atlanta and Orlando, where he is visiting family.

Q: Is it safe to go to the theme parks in Orlando?

A: Yes. The patient didn't feel well after he arrived in Orlando and mostly stayed home with his family. Doctors said he did "not do the usual tourist activities."

Q: What is the incubation time for the virus? What's the treatment?

A: The incubation period of the virus — the time between exposure and development of symptoms — is about five days. Most patients who have had clear-cut exposure to an infected person have become sick within five days. Health officials are using 14 days as the window, to be on the safe side. There is no vaccine or specific treatment.

Q: What is the source of the virus? What about camels?

A: Experts don't know for sure where the virus came from. They think an animal source is most likely. In addition to humans, the virus has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to the virus, which indicates they were previously infected with MERS or a closely related virus.

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