Two Utahns swept up in MERS investigation

Friday, June 6, 2014
By Paul Martin

Outbreak » Davis County individuals did not test positive for the virus, say health officials.

By kirsten stewart
The Salt Lake Tribune
Jun 05 2014

Last month MERS reached American shores.

A Saudi Arabian health worker who flew to Chicago on April 24 and then traveled by bus to Indiana had tested positive for the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced — triggering an investigation to track down every person who had shared space with the unidentified elderly patient, including two Utahns.

No one in Utah has tested positive for the virus, but the investigation illustrates the importance of disease surveillance, said Salt Lake County medical officer and associate director, Dagmar Vitek at a health board meeting on Thursday.

The respiratory virus, which kills about a third of those it infects and has been found in camels and bats, originated on the Arabian Peninsula.

It raised alarms for the CDC because it is the same type of virus as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds in 2003, Vitek said. “We don’t know a lot about this virus, which is scary.”

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