Robert Roos at CIDRAP writes: Official: US MERS patient's first symptoms preceded travel. Excerpt:
An official with the hospital caring for the first US MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus ) patient confirmed today that the man had some illness symptoms before he flew from Saudi Arabia to the United States, though they were not respiratory.
The patient, a US citizen who works in a healthcare job in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, flew from Riyadh to Chicago on Apr 24. After experiencing respiratory symptoms, he was admitted to Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., on Apr 28 and tested positive for MERS-CoV on May 2.
The patient was reported to be in good condition and improving yesterday.
Hospital and local and federal health officials initially said he didn't get sick until after he arrived in Indiana, where he went to visit relatives. But the World Health Organization (WHO), in a May 5 statement about the case, said the man first came down with a fever on Apr 14.
Alan Kumar, MD, chief medical information officer for Community Hospital, said in an interview today that he wasn't sure about the source of the WHO's information, but added, "The part that I can verify is that the patient didn't have any respiratory symptoms prior to or during travel; they started after his arrival. Prior to travel the patient did feel unwell; it was difficult to nail him down on what that meant. The patient did have some low-grade, intermittent fever."
The presence of symptoms during travel implies a potentially greater risk of transmission of the virus to others who traveled with him. The man flew from Riyadh to Chicago by way of London and then took a bus to Indiana, officials have said.
Experts say it is unclear whether those infected with MERS-CoV can pass it to others before they themselves have symptoms, but the possibility hasn't been ruled out.