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First Case of Deadly MERS Infection Found in U.S.

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MERS infectionA deadly virus from the Middle East has been found in the U.S. for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The patient, an American health-care provider who visited Saudi Arabia, flew from Riyadh to London to Chicago on April 24, and then took a bus to Indiana. The patient fell ill on April 27 and was admitted to a hospital the next day, federal officials said today. The CDC is now trying to determine who may have come into contact with the patient.

Now isolated, the patient is being “well cared for,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a briefing today. Schuchat would not say where the person is being treated or provide personal details such as age or gender.

The illness, known as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, has been responsible for 401 cases in 12 countries and 93 deaths, the Atlanta-based CDC said in statement. First detected two years ago, the virus causes respiratory distress, fever and coughing.

Patients die “from the infection in their lungs,” said Debra Spicehandler, a doctor at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. “They need ventilators, can’t breathe and get overwhelming lung infection.”

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