Indiana Man Diagnosed With First American MERS Case

Posted at 9:10 PM, May 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-02 22:45:10-04

MUNSTER, Indiana. (May 2, 2014) — A deadly virus has officially landed in the United States for the first time, and it’s close to the Michigan state line.

A healthcare worker who recently took a trip to the Middle East has been diagnosed with the illness called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS for short.

It’s a very serious illness that kills nearly 30 percent of those who become infected.

The man has been at Community Hospital since Monday, four days after returning to the United States from Saudi Arabia.

The Center for Disease Control said that the man traveled from Saudi Arabia to London, and then flew to Chicago.  From Illinois the man took a bus back home to Indiana on April 24th. Feeling ill, the man was admitted to Munster’s Community Hospital.

Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Russell Lampen with Spectrum Health said that MERS is a virus the CDC has been warning medical professionals about.

“There have been recommendations that anybody who has traveled from the Middle East in the past 14 days with a respiratory illness, MERS should be the differential,” said Dr. Lampen.

The CDC said that the man, who is yet to be identified is a healthcare worker, and the CDC didn’t confirm the positive test for MERS until Friday.

“At this point, I don’t think there is a need for widespread panic. This virus doesn’t appear to travel very easily from person to person. Those who have gotten sick have either lived with a sick individual or has taken care of a sick individual in a hospital setting,” said Dr. Lampen.

The virus has been located in at least 12 countries, all originating from the Arabian Peninsula.

Health officials are still searching for an effective treatment.

“So far there doesn’t appear to be anything and like the common cold, all we have is chicken soup to help, and it doesn’t look like there’s anything on the horizon for treatment,” said Dr. Lampen.

Hospital officials in Munster, IN said that they’ve completely isolated the infected patient and are closely monitoring others who had been in contact with him, checking for any signs of MERS symptoms.

The patient is said to be in stable condition as of Friday night.