Health Team

State advises NC doctors about MERS

Posted May 29, 2014

— The North Carolina Medical Board has contacted state physicians to keep them updated with information about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS.

The board earlier this month sent a memo about the virus, which was first diagnosed in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. MERS has been associated with severe respiratory infections among people who live in or have traveled to the Middle East and those exposed to MERS cases outside of the Middle East.

According to WRAL health expert Dr. Allen Mask, about 30 percent of patients diagnosed with MERS have died.

The first U.S. case was diagnosed in Indiana earlier this month in a traveler from Saudi Arabia. A second patient was infected from contact with the first patient. A third case has also been diagnosed in Florida.

In the alert sent to North Carolina physicians, state epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies said there is no evidence of MERS transmission in the state.

Patients who have a fever, history of travel from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula or have had close contact with an infected traveler are at the most risk for MERS.

Countries considered in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring include:
• Bahrain
• Iraq
• Israel
• Jordan
• Kuwait
• Lebanon
• Oman
• Palestinian territories
• Qatar
• Saudi Arabia
• Syria
• United Arab Emirates
• Yemen

Testing for MERS is available at the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. According to the N.C. Medical Board, there are no antivirals currently available for treatment of MERS or similar viral infections.

“This is an evolving situation,” Mask said. “Recommendations are likely to change, and we will keep you updated.”


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