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US Hosptials Prepare for Potential MERS Patients
WAHSINGTON -- Disease specialists are warning of the potentially deadly virus that's made its way into America.
Experts say the explosion of air-travel between the Middle East, where MERS originated and the U.S. makes the spread of the disease more likely.
So is the U.S. ready?
Hospital officials say they've been warned for at least a year.
They've been instructed by the CDC what to do if MERS arrived.
The first-line of defense: a negative-pressure isolation room, where MERS patients can be treated in American hospitals.
American healthcare workers have been told to heavily-screen patients who have MERS symptoms like coughing and fever and to ask them whether they've been to the Middle East recently.
Other safeguards include masks in big hosptials.
But some small towns might not be as prepared because their health departments have been hit with major budget-cuts.
In small towns or big cities anywhere, medical staffers are at higher risk.
Dr. Dan Lucey's an infectious disease specialist who's battled MERS in the middle east-- and SARS in Asia and Canada.
He says the procedures they use to treat MERS patients are what make healthcare workers vulnerable.
"To open up the airways, there are certain medicines that are given that could aerosolize, or put a lot more virus out into the air, in the shared breathing space that healthcare workers have with their patients," he said.