Munster Hospital Finds First U.S. Case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
May 2, 2014—The first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the United States was confirmed today in Indiana. The patient is being treated at Community Hospital in Munster.
MERS-CoV was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Health officials are still working to determine the source of the virus, how it spreads, and develop a treatment. As of last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) had confirmed 261 cases of the infection and 93 deaths.
The U.S. patient traveled on April 24th by plane from Saudi Arabia to London, England, then from London to Chicago. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Northwest Indiana. On April 27th the patient began to experience increasing respiratory symptoms and on April 28th went to the Emergency Department at Community Hospital in Munster. Because of the person’s travel history and symptoms, physicians ordered the test for MERS-CoV. The diagnoses was confirmed May 2nd by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials say the disease is not easily spread, and the risk to the general public is low.
“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a press release issued Friday. “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”
Officials say any high-risk individuals in Indiana and Chicago have been contacted.
The symptoms of MERS-CoV are similar to that of influenza and include congestion, cough, fever over 100.4, shortness of breath, pneumonia, body aches, and diarrhea. Health experts suggest that anyone experiencing these symptoms seek medical attention.