A doctor may have brought Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to Canada after it’s believed he was exposed to the virus from a patient in Florida, according to reports citing U.S. health officials.
According to reports, the doctor is apparently not showing symptoms of MERS, and health officials have not revealed where the physician is right now.
The doctor is one of about 100 people who may have come into contact with a patient in Orlando who has a confirmed case of MERS.
Hospital officials said he travelled to Canada before he knew he might be at risk. They said he’s taking the proper precautions and will undergo testing.
“It all happened before the proper isolation precautions were initiated,” a health official at the Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando said on Tuesday.
Two health workers in Orlando were taken to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms after having been in contact with a patient confirmed to have MERS.
This is the first known possible exposure in Canada, but Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre microbiologist Dr. Mary Vearncombe told the CBC she believes MERS is heading to Canada.
Canada has yet to confirm its first case of MERS. Officials have not issued any warnings, but Foreign Affairs does advise travellers who come down with flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning to Canada from the Middle East to seek immediate medical attention.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted advisories at more than 20 American airports to alert travelers about the virus.
The MERS virus is in the same family as SARS and likely originated in camels. It’s not yet known how the disease is spread, but it’s proven fatal in about one-third of cases.