Case of Coronavirus (MERS) found in U.S; Is it time to panic?

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 19:14:12-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — While more than 400 people in China continue to battle the virus, and 17 people have been killed there by a severe form of Coronavirus, health officials in Lexington say the virus they’re seeing here is quite common.

“There are Coronaviruses that circulate here all the time,” said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, Lexington’s Commissioner of Health.

The form that’s been circulating across China, is called MERS and is much more severe than what’s in the United States, and is commonly diagnosed when flu-like symptoms are present.

“It’s a family of viruses, then can cause upper respiratory illness,” Humbaugh added.

One case of MERS has been reported in the U.S, from a passenger who traveled from China to Seattle. Some light travel restrictions have been put in place in various parts of the world, and the Center for Disease Control is being aggressive in its fight to keep MERS off U.S. soil.

“The CDC has set up screening stations at three airports in order to screen for the virus, and I think they’re adding more airports,” Humbaugh said of those screening stations that are up and running in New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), and San Francisco (SFO).

Dr. Humbaugh said the best way to avoid getting this, or most viruses, is by washing your hands frequently, while trying to avoid others who may be sick. And he stressed that the strain being seen in China, is not what’s presenting here at home.

“They’re in the same family, but they’re different than this newly recognized virus is.”