Doctors at the U.T. Health Science Center in San Antonio say the appearance of the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, reported in the U.S. should not be cause for alarm, 1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez reports.
The patient, in Indiana, recently returned home from Saudi Arabia where he apparently contracted the disease. Dr. Jan Patterson says there is no reason for the average Texan to be worried about this disease.
"It was in a person who was in a hospital in Saudi Arabia and then came to the United States," she said. "It's something we should be aware of, but we should use the precautions we use during flu season to try to avoid it spreading anywhere."
She says MERS has claimed more than 100 lives in the Middle East, but Dr. Patterson says those deaths were among patients who suffered from some underlying complications.
But she says MERS is nothing to sneeze at.
"There is not really any antibiotics or vaccine that has been developed for it, and the mortality rate has been very high, as in the case of Saudi Arabia.
She compares it to the swine flu scare that hit south Texas in 2009. She says people should be aware of it and take precautions, but should not panic. She says the disease can cause symptoms like respiratory distress, fever, and kidney failure, and says it is not dissimilar to SARS, which hit in a global outbreak 11 years ago. MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.