The U.S. has reported its second case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in a male patient currently confined in an Orlando hospital.
The U.S. Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health, withdrawing yet the full identity of the man, said the patient was a 44-year-old healthcare worker who travelled from Saudi Arabia to Orlando, Florida.
The patient who "works and resides" in Saudi Arabia took a May 1 flight from Jeddah to London's Heathrow Airport, then continued on to Boston, Atlanta and finally Orlando. He rode on at least four planes from Saudi Arabia before finally arriving at his end destination.
He was in no way connected to the first confirmed U.S. case reported 2 weeks ago in Indiana, Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said.
"This is unwelcome but not unexpected news," Tom Friden, CDC director, told reporters on Monday of the Florida case.
Friden said the center is also investigating if the patient contracted the virus while in any of the planes he rode, although Schuchat said the patient was already feeling ill on the flight from Jeddah.
"It's suggesting to us that airplanes themselves are not a likely place for acquisition. We're intensively evaluating the airplane travellers for these two patients who have travelled into the United States to really understand if there is any risk or not," Schuchat told Reuters.
"Diseases are spreading all over the world, and we're all connected by the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the airplanes we ride on," Friden said.
First discovered in 2012, the MERS-CoV has infected a total of 538 worldwide, with 145 deaths. Majority of these cases were in Saudi Arabia, especially among healthcare workers.
Saudi Arabia authorities on Sunday instructed citizens to wear masks and gloves when dealing with camels after a study found the animals were carriers of the said disease.