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Illinois man is third MERS case, first transmitted within U.S.

Monday May 19, 2014
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The Illinois resident who previously tested positive for Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus antibodies has again tested negative for the ability to spread the virus, Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, announced May 19.

“The second round of test results from oral and nasal swabs show the Illinois resident is not infectious,” Hasbrouck said in a news release. “What this means is, although the resident was infected at one time, if he sneezes or coughs, the virus is not in his nose or mouth and therefore cannot be spread to others. The risk of MERS-CoV to the general public remains very low. We will continue to follow up with this individual.”

Health officials continue to follow up with anyone who had close contact with the Illinois resident, including family members. So far all have tested negative, but they will continue to be monitored.

On May 16, the CDC confirmed the Illinois resident contracted MERS after having close contact with the Indiana MERS patient. This is the third recorded case of MERS in the U.S. The Illinois man was asymptomatic and did not seek or require medical care, although local health officials have monitored his health daily since May 3, according to a CDC news release.

CDC officials said these laboratory test results are preliminary and suggested the Illinois resident probably was infected with the virus from the Indiana patient and his body developed antibodies to fight the virus, according to the release.

“This latest development does not change CDC’s current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS,” David Swerdlow, MD, who is leading CDC’s MERS response, said in the release. “It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick. Along with state and local health experts, CDC will investigate those initial cases, and if new information is learned that requires us to change our prevention recommendations, we can do so.”

The Illinois resident has no recent history of travel outside the U.S. He met with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the patient was identified as having MERS infection.

As part of the MERS follow-up investigation, the local health department in Illinois contacted the Illinois resident on May 3. The health department first tested him for active MERS infection on May 5. Those test results were negative. On May 16, the Illinois resident’s antibodies test was positive, showing he has antibodies to MERS, according to the IDPH.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus first was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. As of May 16, there have been 614 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS worldwide, and 181 people have died, according to the World Health Organization. Officials do not know for certain where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.

For information on the Indiana and Florida cases of MERS, go to www.Nurse.com/Article/MERS-In-US.


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