INDIANAPOLIS— A case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has been confirmed in a patient in Northwestern Indiana today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Indiana State Department of Health is working with CDC and others to identify potential additional cases and to prevent further transmission of the disease. This is the first case of MERS-CoV in the United States.
MERS-CoV is viral respiratory illness which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Health officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus. While MERS-CoV has been shown to spread in hospitals, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.
“I want to assure every Hoosier that we have deployed the full resources of the Indiana State Department of Health to engage in tracking this case, assessing the risk to the public, and working to prevent the spread of this virus,” said Governor Pence. “We are working in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and encourage those who may have been exposed to this virus to report any symptoms to their medical provider and take all necessary precautions. Further, I commend Community Hospital in Munster, their staff and physicians for their swift professionalism in diagnosing and addressing this case.”
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-CoV.
The symptoms of MERS-CoV are similar to the symptoms of influenza, and include:
- Fever over 100.4
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
Although the MERS-CoV infection is not easily spread from person-to-person, close contacts of people with MERS-CoV can develop infections.
“We are doing everything in our power to work with the hospital, federal and other state partners, as well as the local health department to track and contain this disease in Indiana,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D.
If you do not have any of the symptoms, you can continue with your daily activities, such as going to work, school, or other public areas.
To help prevent the spread of MERS-CoV 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.
The Indiana State Department of Health has established a hotline for Hoosiers to call with questions. The hotline will be open seven days a week until further notice from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The number is 1-877-826-0011.
For more information, please visit the websites below.
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/index.html
- About Coronavirus: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/index.html
- Frequently Asked MERS Questions and Answers: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/faq.html
- Indiana Department of Health: www.StateHealth.in.gov
For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.IN.gov. Follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.