MERS Virus Case Confirmed In Illinois, Doctors Worried About A ‘Typhoid Mary’ Outbreak

MERS virus symptoms have been confirmed to be spreading via humans with the third confirmed case in the United States. But could the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus turn into a typhoid Mary outbreak?

In a related report by The Inquisitr, the WHO warned the MERS virus may be spread by drinking camel urine and says that people should avoid the traditional medicinal practice.

As of yesterday, there was more than 571 confirmed cases of the MERS virus, and about a third, or 171 people, have died from contracting it. The CDC recently confirmed the MERS virus was in the United States in at least two states. The second MERS virus case was in Florida and up to 21 people, including the patient who had just come from Saudi Arabia, were potentially affected by the deadly coronavirus.

The first case in United States was in Indiana and involved a person who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where it’s believed that up to 75 percent of all the camels within that country may be carrying the MERS virus. The third US case is connected directly to the first case because the man from Illinois had recently been in close contact with the first patient. Lab tests confirmed the MERS virus infection yesterday, but the man says he’s feeling well and doctors believed he has already developed the antibodies necessary to fight off the MERS virus.

The good news is that, while the MERS virus can spread from person to person, it’s said this transference requires prolonged contact. Because the MERS virus does not spread easily via humans,the World Health Organization decided to not declare the MERS virus as a world emergency. Even if this is the case, David Swerdlow, who is leading the CDC response to the MERS virus outbreak, is warning that it should still be taken seriously as a health threat:

“This latest development does not change CDC’s current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS. It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick. Along with state and local health experts, CDC will investigate those initial cases and if new information is learned that requires us to change our prevention recommendations, we can do so.”

But doctors have realized that people infected with the MERS virus may not display severe symptoms and thus think they only have a flu. Swerdlow assumes that the less severe cases are less infectious, but his team is not certain. The CDC is planning on testing whether mild cases of the MERS virus can be transferred as easily. Dr. Amesh Adalja of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center agrees that it’s important to consider this potential scenario:

“Asymptomatic carriers of diseases can represent a major route for a pathogen to spread. Just think of Typhoid Mary.”

To be “asymptomatic” means to be a carrier of the disease yet not display any common MERS virus symptoms.