Suspected cases of MERS investigated in Virginia

Thursday, May 22, 2014
By Paul Martin

by Lucy Bustamante
WVEC.com
May 21, 2014

RICHMOND — State health officials are investigating whether several Virginians may have been exposed to Middle East respiratory syndrome or MERS.

Dr. Laurie Forlano, the deputy state epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health, tells 13 News Now that they are monitoring “several” Virginians who were on airplanes and may have come into contact with people who were sick.

She stresses that no cases have been confirmed in Virginia and they’re keeping track of each region of the state, including Hampton Roads.

Dr. Forlano says “If a doctor suspects that their patient may have MERS, they have to notify the local health department. The Virginia Department of Health then works with clinicians to determine whether testing for MERS is necessary.”
It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours to get results from those tests.

Three people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with MERS: a man in Orlando, Florida, one in Indiana and one in Illinois.
Overall, about 600 people worldwide have had the respiratory illness and about 175 people have died.

Dr. Forlano says she has faith that the military is currently working on future vaccinations for American service members who travel to the Arabian Peninsula.

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