The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

May 7, 2014

Where did virus come from?

(Continued)

HOW CONTAGIOUS IS MERS?

Fortunately, it is not highly contagious — person-to-person spread of the disease has been seen only in close contacts, like family members or health care workers who care for an infected person. On Monday, officials said no infection has been detected in people who sat close to the U.S. patient during his travel from Saudi Arabia to Indiana or in the hospital where he’s been treated. But it can take up to two weeks for someone to become ill after infection, so health officials continue to monitor the situation.

HOW WORRISOME IS THE U.S. MERS CASE?

In this age of jet travel, any person — and the viruses he or she is carrying — can move across the world in a matter of hours. MERS cases have turned up in Europe and Asia, and experts figured it was only a matter of time before one appeared in the United States. They also say they would not be surprised to see others. Scientists are more worried that the virus might mutate to become more infectious, or that a new center for infections — outside the Middle East — might emerge. Fortunately, neither has happened.

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