Via the CDC, a May 17 news release: Illinois resident who had contact with Indiana MERS patient tests positive for MERS coronavirus. Excerpt:
Ongoing investigation of the first imported case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in the United States has identified evidence of apparent past MERS-CoV infection in an Illinois man who had close contact with the Indiana MERS patient.
The Illinois resident did not seek or require medical care. However, local health officials have monitored his health daily since May 3 as part of the investigation. At this time, the Illinois resident is reported to be feeling well.
The previously reported Indiana MERS patient is a U.S. resident who had traveled from Saudi Arabia and was admitted to an Indiana hospital on April 28; the patient was confirmed to have MERS on May 2, and has since been released from the hospital.
For the Illinois resident, laboratory test results showing apparent past MERS-CoV infection were reported late night on May 16. 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.
There are two main ways to determine if a person is or has been infected with MERS-CoV. We can collect a respiratory sample and use a test called PCR to determine if a person has active infection with the virus. Or we can do a blood test that looks for antibodies to MERS-CoV that would indicate a person had previously been infected with MERS-CoV.
“This latest development does not change CDC’s current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS,” said David Swerdlow, M.D., who is leading 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.”
The Illinois resident has no recent history of travel outside the United States. He met with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the patient was identified as having MERS-CoV infection.
As part of the MERS follow-up investigation, the local health department in Illinois contacted the Illinois resident on May 3. The health department first tested this person for active MERS-CoV infection on May 5. Those test results were negative. Public health officials are collecting blood samples from people who were identified as close contacts of the Indiana patient. On May 16, the test result was positive for the Illinois resident, showing that he has antibodies to MERS-CoV.
Reports of the first two confirmed imported cases of MERS in the United States – the first in Indiana on May 2, and the second in Florida on May 11 – have resulted in large-scale multistate investigations and responses aimed at minimizing the risk of spread of the virus. As part of this effort, public health officials are reaching out to healthcare professionals, family members, and others who had close contact with the patients to provide guidance about monitoring their health and recommendations about when to see a healthcare provider for an evaluation.
Public health officials also are working with airlines to identify and notify U.S. travelers who may have been exposed to the patient on any of the flights. Efforts are now under way to identify, notify, test, and monitor close contacts of the Illinois resident.