Via the Chicago Tribune, a report published late on May 5: Indiana MERS patient improving, hospital workers isolated. Click through for the full report and a video clip. Excerpt:
The man authorities cite as the nation’s first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and dozens of hospital workers who first came into contact with him are being isolated from the general public, an effort by officials and public health experts to contain the potential spread of a deadly new pathogen.
Medical workers at an Indiana hospital who now have contact with the man are required to wear gloves, masks, gowns and eye protection. He’s being held in a room designed especially for patients with respiratory infections, segregated from the hospital’s air circulation system.
The patient needed oxygen during the first part of his stay, officials at Community Hospital said Monday, but was never admitted to intensive care. Doctors said he’s now breathing regular air, is in good spirits and has a good appetite.
As the man’s condition appears to improve and nobody else has shown evidence of infection, officials provided the most detailed account to date of the seriousness of care with which public health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have taken to investigate and contain the potential spread of MERS in the United States.
Roughly 50 hospital nurses, clerks, aides, dietary experts and other workers who came into contact with the patient before his infection was confirmed are on paid leave — isolated inside their homes as experts watch for signs of symptoms and test for infection during the virus’ known incubation period.
The patient’s family members are in the same predicament. Those isolated at home have been asked to wear face masks if they leave the building, officials said.
At a briefing with Indiana and federal officials Monday, officials said the Saudi Arabian health care worker, who has not been identified but whom experts refer to as the “index patient,” is expected to return to home isolation with his family “very soon.”
But it’s unclear when the man, who officials said crossed the U.S. border through O’Hare International Airport while en route to a planned visit with Indiana relatives, will be able to travel or leave the country.
No one who has been isolated because of their contact with the patient has tested positive for the virus, officials said. Its incubation period lasts an estimated two to 14 days, and the patient first reported his illness at an Indiana hospital on April 28.