Indiana MERS patient could go home soon

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Doctors treating the first U.S. patient to contract potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) say he is improving so much that he is expected to be able to go home from the hospital soon.

“He is improving every day,” said Alan Kumar, Chief Medical Information Officer at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind.  “He no longer has any oxygen requirements, he’s in good spirits, he’s eating well, and we have started the discharge planning process at this point.  We expect him to be going home soon.”

Hospital officials are not saying much about the patient, citing federal regulations.  He lives in Saudi Arabia and works at a hospital there that has treated MERS patients.  He came to Munster for a planned visit with his family.

On Monday April 28 he walked into the emergency room of Community Hospital in Munster, complaining of flu-like symptoms — fever, cough and shortness of breath.  He was quickly put into a private room.

After interviewing the patient, hospital officials began to suspect, and later confirmed, he was suffering from MERS.

At that time his family and about 50 hospital employees were put on home isolation and tested for the respiratory virus.  To date they have all tested negative for MERS.

But officials with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana Department of Health say they recognize the concern in the community.

Federal health officials also say they are in the process of contacting the passengers on the plane and the passengers who rode on the bus with the man to northwest Indiana.  In total there were 100 on the plane and about 10 on the bus.  So far federal officials have been able to get in contact with three quarters of them, none of whom are reporting any symptoms of MERS.

Health officials in Indiana say they will continue to monitor the situation until all danger of the spread of the disease has left.  Right now they say there does not appear to be any concern for any spread of the virus in the area.  They say everyone in the community should feel safe.

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