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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Third U.S. Man Tests Positive for MERS Virus

He was business associate of health care worker diagnosed with the first U.S. case, but shows no signs of illness

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg and Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporters

SATURDAY, May 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A third U.S. man -- from Illinois -- has tested positive for the MERS virus but shows no signs of the illness, federal health officials reported Saturday.

A business associate of the man who brought the first known case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus to the United States in late April, the Illinois man tested positive for the virus on May 16, officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

The first case was diagnosed in a health care worker who had traveled to Saudi Arabia -- the epicenter of the MERS outbreak -- and returned to the United States before falling ill and being hospitalized in Indiana. The Illinois man has not traveled outside the United States and has not needed medical care, but lab tests spotted the infection in his blood, CDC officials said.

The Illinois man probably got the virus from the Indiana patient and developed antibodies to fight the virus, CDC officials said. The men had two business meetings together before the Indiana man fell ill, officials added.

The second MERS case in the United States was diagnosed in a Florida man on May 11. Also a health care worker, the man had also traveled to Saudi Arabia before he was confirmed to have the MERS virus.

"This latest development does not change CDC's current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS," Dr. David Swerdlow, who is leading the CDC's response to the infection, said in a statement released Saturday. So far, more than 570 people have fallen ill with the virus and 172 have died, most of them in Saudi Arabia.

The health risk to the general public is very low, U.S. officials have said, because the virus is only passed through close contact.

The second U.S. patient worked in a facility in Saudi Arabia that cared for MERS patients. The patient was visiting family in central Florida before being hospitalized. The patient had traveled from Saudi Arabia to London to Boston to Atlanta, before reaching Florida, officials said.

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