TOM SKINNER: Thank you all for joining us as we discuss the first case of MERS in the United States. With us here is Anne Schuchat who will provide some opening remarks and then when we get to your questions, she's going to be joined by Ms. Pamela Pontones, who is the state epidemiologist.
ANNE SCHUCHAT: Thank you everyone for joining us this afternoon. I want to talk to you about a rapidly evolving situation. The first documented case of Middle East respiratory virus has been reported in the United States.
A health care provider recently traveled to Saudi Arabia. The patient is in a hospital in Indiana, isolated, in stable condition and being well cared for. The Indiana public health laboratory tested specimens from this person using the MERS testing kit developed by the CDC and today the test results were confirmed in our laboratory. CDC is working closely with the state hospital to rapidly investigate and respond to this situation to help prevent the spread of the virus.
MERS is a virus that is relatively new to humans and first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Most people who have been confirmed to have the infection develop severe upper respiratory infection. As of today, 262 people in 12 countries have been confirmed to have MERS infections and reported to the world health organization. Ninety-three of these people have died. More than 100 other patients have been confirmed with MERS and not yet included in the world health organization's tally. People with pre-existing health conditions or weakened immune systems.
All MERS cases are in and around the Arabian peninsula. Since March 2014, there has been an increase in the number of cases reported from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended. We do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads although there are some theories of its origin related to camels, for instance. There is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS coronavirus. The largest reported outbreak occurred April through May in eastern Saudi Arabia can which and that included 23 cases in four facilities.
CDC has been working with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads and how infections might be prevented.
In this interconnected world we live in, we expected MERS Co-V to make it to the United States. We developed guidance and tools for health departments, we provided recommendations for health care inspection control and other measures to prevent disease spread. We provided guidance for flight crews, ems units and customs and border protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC. We disseminate up to date information to the public, international travelers and our public health partners.
Let me share some more information with you about the first MERS patient in the United States and what we are doing now in collaboration with the hospital and state officials to respond.
On April 24 the patient traveled by plane from Saudi Arabia to London, England and from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27 of April, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms including shortness of breath, coughing and fever.
He went to the hospital on April 28 and admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated. He is currently in stable condition. Indiana public health officials tested the patient for MERS Co-V.