Illinois resident confirmed third US person with MERS virus

Bailey Williams, Assistant City Editor

An Illinois resident was the third person in the United States confirmed to have the virus which causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, a May 16 test revealed.

MERS is caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, a virus relatively new for humans. Fifteen countries had confirmed cases of MERS by May 16, and of the 572 cases confirmed, 173 people died.

The Illinois resident confirmed to have the virus visited an Indiana patient who was also confirmed to have the virus, according a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news release. Traveling from Saudi Arabia, the Indiana patient, a U.S. resident, entered an Indiana hospital on April 28. Four days later, the Indiana patient was diagnosed with MERS.

The Illinois resident met with the Indiana patient twice, and was tested as a result of the investigation of the person from Indiana on May 5 for an active form of the coronavirus infection. The results were negative. However, on May 16 the Illinois resident’s test results came back positive, showing the resident had antibodies for the MERS virus.

“This latest development does not change CDC’s current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS,” Dr. David Swerdlow, who is leading CDC’s response to the virus, said in a CDC news release. “It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick.”

The Illinois resident, who is not contagious, is feeling well. No medical care was required.

The CDC advised that people take routine steps to prevent contracting respiratory illnesses, since the way the virus spreads is currently unknown. For those who might be visiting areas near the Arabian Peninsula, the CDC advised to not necessarily change travel plans but to be attentive to your health during the trip.

“Along with state and local health experts, CDC will investigate those initial cases and if new information is learned that requires us to change our prevention recommendations, we can do so,” Swerdlow said in a CDC news release.

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