CDC Investigators Unsure How MERS Is Spread

The deadly new respiratory virus has already killed more than 150 people, mostly in the Middle East.
2:54 | 05/19/14

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Transcript for CDC Investigators Unsure How MERS Is Spread
To that potentially deadly respiratory virus, mers is on the move this morning. The very first case transmitted right here on U.S. Soil. ABC's Steve osunsami has the latest and joins us from CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Good morning, Steve. Reporter: Good morning, robin. Investigators here at the CDC say they are still not 100% sure how this disease is spread. It's the personal transmission of this potentially deadly respiratory disease on U.S. Soil. An Illinois businessman testing possible for mers on Friday. His first test was negative. He never felt sick. Doctors had already sent him home for two weeks then cleared him for travel when they discovered that his body had fought and killed the virus. Here's how they think he caught it. He had extended face-to-face contact with patient number 1, an Indiana man who flew in with the disease from Saudi Arabia. They had two 40-minute meetings, sat six feet apart and shook hands. Health officials are watching anyone who had close contact with both men. We're offering the opportunity to be tested and reassure them. Reporter: The CDC says it's still much easier to catch the flu or the common cold telling us most new cases will come from the Arabian peninsula. Travel season is to the peninsula is about to kick off. We've got pilgrimage holidays and ram done Co-- Ramadan coming up at the end of June. Reporter: They're working to track down passengers who shared flights with patient number 1 and passenger number 2 who had to be hospitalized in Orlando. Both men flew from Saudi Arabia. They underline that this is a new disease. That it isn't terribly contagious but does kill, more than 160 people have already died from this. Most of them in the middle east. Robin. We do have to keep that in mind. For more we turn to Dr. Richard Besser who spent many years there at the CDC. In fact, that's where you were before we were lucky enough to have you join us. Remind us again what mers. Stands for the middle eastern respiratory syndrome and it's a respiratory infection that can lead to pneumonia and the concerning thing is that up to a third of people, 30% can die from this infection. The concern about its spreading here in the U.S. Where is that stand? This weekend it was really a big turn in this investigation. The concerning thing is the person who got the infection only spent 40 minutes with the infected patient. 40 minutes face to face and a handshake. That's very concerning. The encouraging thing although he was infected he didn't get sick. His body fought it off. We don't know if that's the norm. That has to be of concern. I talked to the cd lac last night. How serious really is this infection? Could there be a lot of people that get it but have no problem? Until they answer it they'll be all over it. Thanks. There was a big move in the business world. A blockbuster merger that could

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