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CDC confirms Illinois resident infected with MERS

An Illinois resident who had contact with a northwest Indiana MERS patient tested positive for the virus on Friday, according to a statement from the Center of Disease Control.

The Indiana man, who was discharged on May 9, was the first person to be diagnosed with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS. The Illinois man had close contact with the Indiana patient, the CDC said.

The Illinois resident did not seek medical care; however, health officials have been monitoring him since May 3 as part of a CDC investigation. According to the CDC, the Illinois man is said to be feeling well.

The previously reported Indiana MERS patient is a U.S. resident who traveled to Saudi Arabia and was admitted to an Indiana hospital on April 28, the CDC said. That patient, who is from Munster, was confirmed to have MERS on May 2.

CDC officials said a laboratory test for the Illinois resident is preliminary. The Illinois resident has no recent history of travel outside the U.S., the CDC said. However, he did meet with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the patient was identified as having the MERS infection.

The health department first tested the Illinois man for active MERS infection on May 5, but results were initially negative, the CDC said.

MERS was first reported to cause human infection in September 2012 and is thought to have originated in the Middle East, the CDC said. It has killed about 30 percent of the patients it infects, the CDC said. Most of those are elderly people who had other health issues, the CDC added.

As of May 12, 536 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection have been reported, the CDC said, a number that includes 173 deaths. All reported cases have been directly or indirectly linked through travel or residence to seven countries: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, and Yemen, according to the CDC.

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

“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.”

According to the CDC, there have been three confirmed MERS’ reports in the U.S. to date. The other incident was reported in Florida on May 11, the CDC added.