The second reported case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the US has surfaced at an Orlando, Florida, hospital and has prompted a quarantine of 19 health care workers and hospitalization of another after the employees came into contact with the infected individual. Health officials believe the second confirmed US case—another health care worker who had returned from Saudi Arabia—was contracted through close contact in a health care environment.
In a press release, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, MD, PhD, described the second case as "not surprising" given the increase in reported cases in the Arabian Peninsula. The CDC continues to describe the MERS risk to the public as "very low," and is not recommending that US residents change travel plans.
The 19 individuals quarantined and 1 hospitalized were employed at Dr. P Phillips Hospital or the Orlando Regional Medical Center, and came into contact with the infected individual. The employee who was hospitalized "developed symptoms" but test results had not been received by the time of a report in the Palm Beach Post. The CDC is urging all health care workers to follow the CDC's recommendations for infection control.
For more information on MERS protocols, visit the CDC webpage on interim prevention and control recommendations around MERS. Although it does not address MERS specifically, APTA's infectious disease control webpage helps physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) understand the protocols for reducing risk of disease transmission. APTA staff will continue to monitor the situation and add resources as they are needed.
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