WASHINGTON, DC (21Alive) -- Officials from the Center for Disease Control have confirmed the first case of MERS in the United States.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is an often deadly virus that has been seen prominently in Saudi Arabia. It is very similar to the SARS virus that caused problems internationally in the early 2000s.
Scientists have yet to determine how the virus, often found in camels, is transmitted to humans.
CDC reports that the victim traveled on April 24th from Saudi Arabia to London, then to Chicago, and then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. The patient first showed signs of illness on the 27th of April.
The CDC is working with health officials from Indiana to investigate the case. The patient has been placed in isolation.
The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed that the case was reported in Munster, Indiana.
Community Hospital of Munster reports the patient is in stable condition, and released the following statement:
Today, May 2, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) conducted a joint press briefing to announce the first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the United States. As just announced by the ISDH, the patient is being treated at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana. In light of federal privacy regulations, we can only disclose that the patient is in good condition. We are maintaining appropriate isolation protocols for the protection of health care staff.
Community Hospital recognized the possibility of the MERS infection and acted quickly to institute isolation protocols to contain the possible spread of the virus. Community Hospital has been working cooperatively with the CDC and ISDH regarding tracking of patient family members and monitoring of exposed health care workers. This patient was not out in the local community and, therefore, any public exposure was minimal.
Again, this disease requires close contact for transmission, and the patient’s activities in the United States have been very limited and thus widespread cases are not expected. However, in an abundance of caution, the exposed family members and health care workers will be monitored daily throughout the 14-day incubation period to watch for the development of any signs or symptoms of MERS-CoV. Since there is limited data regarding MERS-CoV, and because this is the first confirmed case in the United States, Community Hospital will be a data surveillance site for the CDC.
As noted by the Indiana Governor’s Office and the ISDH, Community Hospital recognized and identified this rare disease and acted quickly to contain the situation and protect the public.
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