Thursday, May 24, 2018
Health

Nation's second MERS case found in Central Florida (with Q&A)

Health officials have confirmed a second U.S. case of a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.

The latest case is not an American — he is a resident of Saudi Arabia, visiting Florida, who is now in an Orlando hospital.

He was diagnosed with MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Sunday night. It is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.

Fortunately, the U.S. cases so far have not been severe. The first case, a man in Indiana, was released from a hospital late last week. And the second patient is doing well, officials said. The two cases are not linked, officials said.

"The risk to the public remains very low," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.

Most cases have been in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East. But earlier this month a first U.S. case was diagnosed in a man who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.

That man, an American, was a health-care worker at a hospital in Saudi Arabia's capital city who flew to the United States on April 24 on a plane that originated in Riyadh, stopped in London and then landed in Chicago. The man took a bus to Munster, Ind., where he became sick and went to a hospital on April 28.

He improved and was released from a Munster hospital on Friday. Tests of people who were around the man have all proved negative, health officials have said.

Health officials now must track down fellow travelers who were around the newest case, and this time it will be more challenging: There were more flights involved.

This man also was a health-care worker at a hospital where MERS cases were being treated, the CDC said. He traveled on May 1 on flights from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, first to London, then to Boston, then to Atlanta, and finally to Orlando. He went to a hospital on May 8 and was placed in isolation.

The first flight was Saudi Airlines flight 113 to London, according to a Public Health England press release. The U.S. government did not identify the flight information for the other legs.

Health officials did not immediately release additional detail about his travels or his week in Florida, except to say he was not at any theme parks and remained in the Orlando area to see family.

The man is at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando. He arrived there with relatively mild symptoms, is stable and doing well, but there is no timetable for his release, said Dain Weister, a spokesman for Florida's health department.

As early as the first flight, the latest case was suffering fever, chills and a slight cough. That doesn't necessarily mean he infected anyone. Experts think MERS cases are most infectious when they are severely ill, with symptoms like pneumonia and difficulty breathing, Schuchat said.

However, health officials are trying to contact as many as 500 people who were on the three flights within the United States to let them know the situation and watch for symptoms. People on the flight from Jeddah to London also will be contacted, CDC officials said.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003.

The MERS virus has been found in camels, but officials don't know how it is spreading to humans. It can spread from person to person, but officials believe that happens only after close contact. Not all those exposed to the virus become ill.

But it appears to be unusually lethal — some estimates have suggested it has killed nearly a third of the people it sickened. The estimate has been dropping as health officials have begun diagnosing more and more cases with less severe illness. But the estimated fatality rate for MERS still is far higher than what's seen with seasonal flu or other routine infections.

Fortunately, it is not as contagious as flu, measles or other diseases. There is no vaccine or cure and there's no specific treatment except to relieve symptoms.

Overall, 538 people have been reported to have the respiratory illness, including 145 people who have died. So far, all had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there. As many as one-fifth of cases have been in health-care workers, Schuchat said.

Comments
Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as "grit." These humble remain...
Published: 05/23/18
FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers. The Food and Drug...
Published: 05/23/18
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Published: 05/23/18
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18
U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. regulators Thursday approved the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. The Food and Drug Administration’s action clears the monthly shot Aimovig (AIM’-oh-vig) for sale. It’s the first in a new class of long-acting dru...
Published: 05/18/18
Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day, and the American Medical Association is encouraging people to monitor their blood pressure levels and get high blood pressure, or hypertension, under control. High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as the...
Published: 05/17/18
Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Women having trouble getting pregnant sometimes try yoga, meditation or mindfulness, and some research suggests that psychological stress may affect infertility. But what about men: Does their mental state affect a couple’s ability to conceive?The la...
Published: 05/17/18