An Illinois resident who was diagnosed with MERS on Friday tested negative over the weekend for the ability to spread the virus, health officials announced Monday.
The man, who at first tested negative for the virus on May 5, tested positive on Friday, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Health.
But over the weekend, health officials tested the man for the ability to spread MERS using oral and nasal swabs, and those results came back negative.
“What this means is, although the resident was infected at one time, if he sneezes or coughs, the virus is not in his nose or mouth and therefore, cannot be spread to others,” said Dr. Hasbrouck, director of the department of health. “The risk of MERS-CoV to the general public remains very low.”
Health officials continue to follow up with people who may have had close contact with the man, the department said. All of the Illinois man’s family members who had close contact with him have tested negative but will continue to be monitored, the department said.
It’s believed that the Illinois man contracted the virus after meeting at least twice with an Indiana man who had MERS--the first case of the virus in the country, authorities said.
The former 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 and was released from care on May 9.
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 includes173 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.
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.