An Illinois resident who had contact with an Indiana MERS patient has tested positive for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Local health officials said the Illinois resident did not seek or require medical care, showing no signs of the virus, but his health has been monitored and he is said to be feeling well, the CDC reports.
This marks the third confirmed case of the virus in the United States, after a second case was reported in Florida earlier this week.
The first reported case of the deadly respiratory virus known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) in the United States was discovered earlier this month after an American working as a health care worker in Saudi Arabia flew into the U.S. through Chicago.
The patient, who was treated at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., has since been released from the hospital and is said to be doing well, officials said.
Officials are now investigating after evidence shows a MERS infection in an Illinois man who had close contact with the Indiana patient.
The Illinois resident does not have any recent history of travel outside of the United States, but met with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the patient was identified as having MERS.
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Officials said the patient shook hands with the Indiana man and later reported having minor cold-like symptoms.
As part of their follow-up investigation, a local health department contacted the Illinois resident, who tested negative for the virus on May 5. On Friday, however, the test result came back positive.
“The risk to the general public still remains low,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “It was out of an abundance of caution that we conducted rigorous follow-up with this individual and have identified this person to have been infected with MERS-CoV at one time. Previous MERS-CoV illnesses have not shown to be spread easily from person-to-person in communities. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), working with our local health departments, will remain vigilant for any new MERS-CoV infections and we are prepared with surveillance, guidance and testing to handle any additional infections.”
Public health officials are still working to collect blood samples from people who were identified as close contacts of the Indiana patient, according to the CDC, and efforts are under way to identify, notify, test, and monitor close contacts of the Illinois resident.
- Learn More About MERS
- Illinois MERS-CoV Hotline: 844-565-0256
CDC officials explained that these laboratory test results are preliminary and suggest that the Illinois resident probably got the virus from the Indiana patient and the person's body developed antibodies to fight the virus.
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"This latest development does not change CDC's current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS," said David Swerdlow, M.D., who is leading the CDC's MERS-CoV 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."