NEW YORK — Health officials reported Saturday what appears to be the first time that a mysterious Middle East virus has spread from one person to another in the United States.
The Illinois man probably picked up an infection from an Indiana man who this month became the first U.S. case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The Illinois man, however, never needed medical treatment and is reported to be feeling well, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The two men met twice before the Indiana man fell ill and was hospitalized in Munster, Ind., shortly after traveling from Saudi Arabia, where he lived and was employed as a health care worker. Health officials say they think the virus spread during a 40-minute business meeting that involved no more contact than a handshake.
"We don't think this changes the risk to the general public," which remains low, said Dr. David Swerdlow of the CDC.
The report also is not considered evidence that the virus is spreading more easily among people than previously thought, he said. MERS is not considered to be highly contagious, and officials believe it only spreads from person to person in close contact.
Saudi Arabia has been at the center of the outbreak of MERS that began two years ago.