First U.S. patient of deadly MERS virus responding to treatment
Monday, May 05, 2014 - 02:13
May 5 - A healthcare worker being treated in Indiana with the first U.S. case of the often fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is in good condition and improving daily, the state health department says. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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STORY: A healthcare worker being treated in Indiana with the first U.S. case of the often fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is improving, health officials at the hospital where he is being treated said on Monday (May 5).
"The patient remains in good condition and we are maintaining appropriate isolation protocols for the protection of patients and staff," said Munster Community Hospital CEO Donald Fesko on Monday during a press conference.
MERS is caused by a coronavirus, a family of viruses that includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people.
The U.S. patient is a healthcare worker who on April 28 was admitted to the hospital just 30 minutes south of Chicago after having worked in healthcare in Saudi Arabia, the center of the MERS outbreak that began in 2012.
U.S. health officials are now checking airline manifests and contacting patients who may have been seated near the man who took a plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to London and then to Chicago, where he then took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.
All healthcare workers at the hospital exposed to the patient have tested negative for the virus, said Fesko, who emphasized that his hospital remains a safe place to receive care.
The Indiana patient, who was not identified, was described by the hospital's Dr. Alan Kumar as being in "good spirits" and eating well. He added the process to discharge the patient had already begun.
The patient's family is reportedly on "home isolation" and being monitored for symptoms but health officials said they were so far symptom free.
Currently, it is not clear how the virus is transmitted, but it is clear that it can pass among individuals who have close contact with infected patients.
"We know that it can spread person to person, however, this happens almost exclusively among very close contacts either in the home or in the healthcare setting," said medical epidemiologist Dr. Daniel Feikin who is heading a team from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that arrived at Community Hospital late Friday.
"We are personally relieved and thankful that the patient who contracted this virus is improving and may well be going home soon," said Indiana Governor Mike Pence during the news conference.
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