MERS Virus: How Worried Should We Be?

Fred Bodimer

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Following news that an Illinois man picked up the virus after shaking hands with a MERS patient in Indiana, how worried should we be?

CBS News Medical Contributor Dr. Holly Phillips says it’s not something to worry about on the day-to-day.

“But, it’s really important that we stay vigilant, and it’s great that the CDC and the World Health Organization are both all over it,” she says.

She says that the two patients met briefly twice, in which their longest meeting was just 40 minutes, and each time they shook hands.

“That’s not really considered close contact,” Phillips says. “What the CDC is going to have to look for is if the virus is simply more contagious than we thought it was before, or if it’s changed in some way.”

St. Louis City Health Director Pam Walker has put the city’s hospitals and emergency responders on alert as a precaution.

SLU Hospital infectious diseases specialist Dr. Nirav Patel says they’re educating their staff, both in the emergency room and throughout the hospital, about symptoms they need to watch out for.

Patel says symptoms range from quite mild to very severe and include fevers, pneumonia and upper respiratory problemsbut the key clue is contact with someone who was recently in the Middle East.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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