Valley Hospitals Ready for Major Outbreaks

A possibly deadly respiratory illness has spread across the globe to the United States.

Photo Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disea

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- A possibly deadly respiratory illness has spread across the globe to the United States. Now, Valley doctors hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or "MERS" has led to almost 200 deaths worldwide. Now that it's in the U.S., doctors at Sentara RMH say they're ready should the virus spread to Virginia.

"The world is smaller, so anything is a threat,” shared Dr. Claire Plautz with Sentara RMH.

Like other doctors across the country, she's working hard to prevent the spread of viruses like MERS. She adds that the hospital has an action plane in place.

"We have mechanisms to call in additional providers, open up extra rooms, and even have providers stay overtime,” she explained.

MERS isn't the only thing they're worried about here, though.

"Cold viruses, although not as deadly as MERS, can be detrimental to patients with chronic medical illnesses,” Plautz added.

Something else to watch, especially in kids, is measles. The CDC says measles cases are at a 20-year high in the U.S. and is a much bigger problem than MERS at this point.

"It can lead into a lot of things,” shared Ruth Knott who lives in Augusta County. She says she's dealt with having measles, and it isn't fun.

"It wasn't very good with itching and carrying on. You can half sleep,” Knott explained.

As parent, Plautz says regardless of the illness, we all need to be vigilant this summer travel season.

“I know the best way to protect my children is to make sure they're vaccinated,” she concluded.

While there is no vaccine for MERS at this point, scientists in Europe say they've made a breakthrough on how to block the spread of the virus.

Vaccines for measles are recommended for kids and those traveling abroad to stop the spread this summer.

Representatives from Augusta Health and Valley Health say both say their hospitals have actions plans in place for MERS and other outbreaks as well. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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