Second MERS Case Shows Hospitals Are Ground Zero For MERS

Maggie Fox | NBC News | May 13, 2014

The patient started feeling ill as he sat on a packed flight from Jeddah to London. Things didn’t get any better after he boarded another flight to Boston, or a third flight to Atlanta, or even as he took one last miserable leg to Orlando. If he’d been watching the news, he should have known it was at least possible that he had MERS, the mysterious new Middle East respiratory virus. It’s been spreading in Saudi Arabia and has infected more than 570 people globally, killing 171 of them. The biggest risk factor is being a health care worker, like the patient.

Still, he boarded multiple flights and came into an Orlando hospital without warning he had respiratory symptoms and had come from Saudi Arabia. He spent hours in a public emergency room, potentially exposing other patients to his infection. Showing up in an emergency department without warning results in just what has happened in Orlando — 20 health care workers in quarantine for two weeks. Patients who were in the waiting room are being tracked down just to be sure they know what to do if they develop cough or fever...