Man with first U.S. case of MERS infection is hospitalized in Munster, Ind.

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NEW YORK Health officials say a deadly virus from the Middle East has turned up for the first time in the U.S.

An American who works as a health care worker in Saudi Arabia is hospitalized in Munster, Indiana, with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS-CoV.

On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois.

The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana.

On the 27th, the patient began to experience increasing respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient visited the Emergency Department at Community Hospital in Munster on April 28 and was admitted that same day.

The patient is being well cared for, is isolated and is in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, physicians at the hospital decided a MERS-CoV test was appropriate.

Community Hospital in Munster has contacted all high-risk individuals.

In an abundance of caution, individuals who visited the Emergency Department (ED) of Community Hospital in Munster between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on April 28, 2014 should watch for signs and symptoms.

If you visited the ED during this time and begin experiencing symptoms, please call your healthcare provider and let them know about your possible exposure to MERS.

The symptoms of MERS are similar to the symptoms of influenza, and include:

• Congestion
• Cough
• Fever over 100.4 degrees
• Shortness of breath
• Pneumonia
• Body aches
• Diarrhea

Although the infection is not easily spread from person-to-person, close contacts of people with MERS can develop infections.

Saudi Arabia was been the center of an outbreak of MERS, which surfaced two years ago. At least 400 cases have been reported, and more than 100 people have died.

There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.

While MERS has been shown to spread in hospitals, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread in community settings.

The virus has been found in camels, but officials don't know how it is spreading to humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the U.S. case to track down anyone the patient had close contact with recently.

To help prevent the spread of MERS to other people, CDC advises that people follow these tips:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

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