Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Friday that an American traveler from Saudi Arabia was infected with the rare Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The man who arrived in Chicago and travelled to Indiana on April 24 experienced shortness of breath, coughing, and fever on April 27 and was admitted to an Indiana hospital the following day. The patient, who was put in an isolation ward, is currently in stable condition.
The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC tested the patient for MERS-CoV and confirmed the infection Friday afternoon.
CDC and Indiana health officials suspect that the patient was exposed to the virus in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient.
There are 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries and 93 deaths. All originated in the six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. The largest reported outbreak occurred April through May 2013 in eastern Saudi Arabia and involved 23 confirmed cases in four healthcare facilities.
Most of the infected people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 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.
The CDC has prepared for the arrival of MERS-CoV in the U.S. as early as July 2013. CDC advises Americans to help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by washing hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching their eyes, nose and/or mouth with unwashed hands, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.