Investigators from the Center for Disease Control arrived at the Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana this morning to take over the treatment of the first patient in the U.S. with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS.
The CDC is also working closely with health officials from Indiana and Illinois to contain the virus that has no cure and can be deadly.
The man infected is a U.S. healthcare worker who was living and working in Saudi Arabia.
He came to Indiana for a conference and when he became ill he went to stay with family according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
The MERS patient flew from Saudi Arabia to London and then to O’Hare Airport before taking a bus to Indiana on April 24th.
After feeling ill, the man went to the emergency room at Community Hospital on April 28th, where doctors diagnosed him with MERS.
The CDC describes MERS as a “coronavirus”.
Symptoms include congestion and cough, fever above 100-degrees, shortness of breath, body aches and diarrhea.
The patient’s family and healthcare workers he had contact with will be monitored closely for signs of MERS.
The CDC is also contacting passengers that shared a plane or bus with the infected man.
“There is no reason to suspect any current risk to travelers or employees at O’Hare Airport at this time,” said CDPH commissioner Bechara Choucair.
The coronavirus, known as MERS-CoV, was first reported in the Middle East — specifically, the Arabian Peninsula — in 2012.
Laboratory testing has confirmed 262 cases of the coronavirus in 12 countries, including the Indiana case, Schuchat said. Ninety-three people have died.
So far, all MERS cases have been linked to six countries on or near the Arabian Peninsula, Schuchat said.
The Saudi Ministry of Health has reported 339 cases, and said nearly a third of those have died. Not all of the Saudi cases have been confirmed by the World Health Organization.
The head epidemiologist for the Indiana State Department of Health says it’s unlikely those people are infected, but health officials still want to reach out them as a precaution.
Hospital officials say anyone who was in Community Hospital on April 28th between 6:30pm and 9:30pm should also see a health professional as a precaution.
Here are a few tips to protect your self from contagious coronaviruses.
– Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and dispose of used tissues in a covered bin.
– Wash hands frequently using soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
– Seek medical advice if you exhibit symptoms such as low grade fever, sore throat or running nose, or diarrhea.
– If exhibiting symptoms, wear a surgical mask to limit the spread of the virus.
– Avoid contact with livestock, uncooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, or unpasteurized milk.
– Travelers who develop symptoms up to 14 days after their return from affected areas should put on surgical masks, seek medical attention and inform their doctor of their travel history.