KNOXVILLE (WATE) - UT Medical Center is taking extra precautions trying to avoid a possible deadly virus, better known as MERS, from spreading either to patients or hospital staff after a second case of the illness is confirmed in the U.S.
We caught up with doctors who say it's hard to tell if the virus will spread to Tennessee. Dr. Mark Rasnake, an infectious disease specialist, says MERS is a very new virus and difficult to predict.
That's the reason why staff at UT Medical Center are on high alert, recently launching their infectious disease plan in case a patient comes in with symptoms. The first step would be masking so that it wouldn't be spread.
"The next step would be to ask questions about recent travel, recent contacts, and if they show respiratory symptoms and answer yes to some of our screening questions, we're going to put them in isolation," said Manager of Infection Prevention Lorene Cathey.
MERS cases started showing in Saudi Arabia back in 2012, spread by coughing and sneezing, this virus is contagious and can be deadly.
"Some people will start with fever, ache, cough. Then start to develop shortness of breath and then more severe symptoms," said Dr. Rasnake.
So is there a vaccine? The answer is no.
"For right now someone who has traveled to the Middle East is really the largest risk," added Dr. Rasnake.
Still, the best line of defense for you and me is to wash our hands and follow everyday common cold prevention.
"It's better to be safe than sorry," said Cathey.
So far there have been no confirmed cases of MERS in Tennessee, but doctors suggest you continue to check with public health officials like the CDC or your local health department. For more information about MERS you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website by clicking here.
UT Medical Center will be posting signs reminding patients to be sure to tell staff if they're suffering from respiratory symptoms.