First US MERS patient worked in Saudi Arabia healthcare

Saturday, May 3, 2014
By Paul Martin

Robert Roos
CIDRAP News
May 02, 2014

A person who recently worked in healthcare in Saudi Arabia and fell ill after flying to the United States on Apr 24 has the first confirmed US case of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), federal health officials announced today while asserting that there is very little risk to the public.

The patient, who was not identified, was admitted to Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., on Apr 28, tested positive for MERS this afternoon, and is in stable condition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced. To protect the patient’s family, the CDC did not reveal the person’s gender, age, or whether he or she is a US or Saudi resident.

“The first importation of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,” said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at a press teleconference this afternoon. “The virus has not shown an ability to spread easily.”

The case comes amid a major increase in MERS illnesses in Saudi Arabia over the past several weeks, including many in healthcare workers (HCWs). Riyadh is one of the cities that have had many recent cases, along with Jeddah.

“We do not have any reports of any other patients ill with MERS-CoV in this investigation. But it’s a very active investigation and very early,” said Schuchat.

From Riyadh to London to Chicago

The patient flew on Apr 24 from Riyadh to London and on to Chicago, then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana, CDC officials and the Indiana State Department of Health (IDPH) said.

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