MUNSTER, Ind. — A northwest Indiana hospital patient who was the first confirmed U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was discharged from the hospital on Friday.
“The patient has tested negative for MERS, is no longer symptomatic and poses no threat to the community,” said Dr. Alan Kumar, chief medical information officer for Community Hospital in Munster.
The hospital finalized its discharge plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the state health department, the hospital said in a release.
The patient has been cleared to come off isolation and may travel, the release said. No other cases of MERS have been identified.
“This case demonstrates that any infectious disease in the world is only a plane ride away,” Indiana State Health Commissioner William VanNess said in a statement. “I encourage all of our healthcare providers to remain vigilant in looking for any future cases.”
The patient traveled April 24 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London then to O’Hare International Airport, then traveled by bus to Highland, Ind., hospital officials said.
The CDC and state heath departments have contacted most people on those flights, and none show symptoms of MERS. There has been no evidence of community-level transmission either, the hospital said.
Hospital staff who had direct contact with the patient remain off-duty in temporary home isolation, the release said. They will be allowed to return to work following the incubation period and confirmed negative lab test results.
MERS is believed to have originated in the Middle East about 2011 or 2012 and has killed about 30 percent of the patients it infects. Most of those are elderly patients who had other health issues.