ac Gupta MERS_00014902.jpg
First U.S. case of MERS confirmed
02:54 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The patient is a health care provider who traveled to Saudi Arabia

MERS coronavirus was first reported in 2012 in the Middle East

Saudi officials have noted a recent spike in cases

CNN  — 

The first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has been reported in Indiana, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The patient is a health-care provider who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia to provide health care, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general with the U.S. Public Health Service and director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The person, an American male, traveled on April 24 from Riyadh to London, then to Chicago, and took a bus to Indiana, officials said. He began experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, and fever on April 27, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

The patient was admitted to Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28, the same day he visited the emergency department there, the health department said. He has been isolated and is in stable condition. He is receiving oxygen support, but does not require a ventilator, Schuchat said.

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The virus poses a “very low risk to the broader general public,” Schuchat said, as it has not been shown to spread easily from person to person.

The CDC and the Indiana State Department of Health are conducting a joint investigation into the case, according to a CDC statement. The CDC confirmed Indiana test results on Friday.

“The CDC, IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) and CDPH (Chicago Department of Public Health) do not consider passengers on the flight or bus to be close contacts of the patient and therefore are not at high risk,” said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the IDPH.

Passengers on the same plane and bus as the patient will be contacted by the CDC as a precautionary measure, starting Saturday, the Illinois statement said. If the CDC identifies ill individuals with possible MERS-CoV, it will notify health officials in Chicago and Indiana.

“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.