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Written by: Vester Gravley on Thursday, August 20, 2015 Posted in:

MERS has made its American debut

SPLASH! Like stepping off the end of the diving board, America finds itself plunged suddenly into the cold reality of a potentially deadly viral outbreak. MERS has made its American debut. First, an Indiana man traveling from Saudi Arabia via London and Chicago is diagnosed. Next, a man in Orlando, Florida; a Saudi resident presents with symptoms after first making connections in London, Boston and Atlanta, resulting in his quarantine along with 16 hospital workers who cared for him prior to a definitive diagnosis.1  All the while health officials feverishly downplay the two unrelated events. Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC stated, “The risk to the public remains very low.” Phil Brown, executive director for the Orlando International Airport, added, “The condition does not spread easily from person to person therefore the risk of getting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infection from someone who has it is low. It is primarily transmitted through direct contact…”2

I imagine the ostensible surprise of mollifiers everywhere when this troubling headline appears out of the gathering morning mist: “CDC: First case of MERS infection transmitted inside the U.S.” This would be the case of an Illinois man, the third in as much as a week, who simply conducted a 40 minute face-to-face business meeting with the man from Indiana and possibly shook hands. More alarming to some is that fact that the Illinois man was virtually asymptomatic, so mild in fact he felt no need to seek help!3

The Spanish Flu epidemic of a hundred years ago unleashed its lethal campaign, ultimately killing upwards of 600,000 people. It is deemed the worst epidemic in American history. In the very early days of that crippling epidemic Royal Copeland, the Health Commissioner of New York City, announces, “The city is in no danger of an epidemic. No need for our people to worry.”4

Courage friends! Be vigilant! Be safe! And wash those hands