Robert Roos at CIDRAP writes: First US MERS patient doing well; contacts healthy so far. Excerpt:
The patient who has the first MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case in the United States is a US citizen in his 60s who lives and works in Saudi Arabia and was visiting relatives in Indiana when he fell ill, but he is now improving rapidly, federal, state, and global health officials revealed today.
Officials also reported at a press conference that all the patient's healthcare worker contacts have tested negative for the virus so far, and no illness has been reported among airline passengers who traveled with him from Saudi Arabia to Chicago and have been contacted.
As was reported when the case was announced on May 2, the man is a healthcare worker at a hospital in Riyadh. Today officials said there were MERS-CoV patients at the hospital, but the patient was not aware of having had contact with them.
The patient is recovering at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., where today's press briefing was held. He flew on Apr 24 from Riyadh to London and on to Chicago, and then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana.
The man got sick with flu-like symptoms on Apr 27 and sought treatment at the Munster hospital the evening of Apr 28, officials said. He tested positive for MERS on May 2. Because of federal privacy rules, officials have revealed little information about the patient.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today, however, that the man had an onset of fever on Apr 14, which means he apparently already had symptoms before flying to Chicago on Apr 24. The agency said the man is in his 60s, information not shared by health authorities in the United States.
The WHO also said that the man was placed in a negative-pressure room with airborne precautions on Apr 29. Computed tomography of the man's chest that day showed infiltrates in both lungs. The next day he was placed in full isolation, with standard, contact, and airborne precautions, the agency said.
Patient may go home soon
Alan Kumar, MD, chief medical Information officer at the hospital, said the man no longer needs supplemental oxygen, as he did earlier. "We expect him to be going home soon," he said.
Officials said about 50 hospital employees who had contact with the patient before he was diagnosed have been tested for MERS-CoV and are in home isolation and will stay there for 14 days, which is considered the longest possible incubation period for the virus.
"The state lab has tested all the samples of the healthcare workers at this hospital, and preliminary results are negative," said Indiana State Health Commissioner William Vanness II, MD, at the press conference.