Spread of MERS Unlikely in the U.S.

The chances of the deadly MERS virus spreading here seem unlikely, says a local doctor specializing in infectious diseases. MERS - short for Middle Eastern Respiratory Coronavirus - has infected more than 300 people and claimed the lives of more than 100 people in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North Africa. There have been no cases reported here in the United States. So far, only about 30 percent of those contracting the virus became ill, explained Bruce Hirsch, MD, an attending physician at North Shore University Hospital’s division of infectious diseases. Given MERS inefficient mode of transmission, healthcare authorities here would be able to rapidly respond to the disease to contain it should it make an appearance, he said. Until recently, the disease was thought to be linked to people who acquired it from contact with camels. But now, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that more cases of MERS seem to be spreading through person-to-person contact.

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