Positive Test for MERS in Illinois Patient

MERS antibodies confirmed in Illinois man who had close contact with first US patient

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Officials have been monitoring the situation since the first case of MERS was reported in the US earlier in May. Now, a close contact of this patient has tested positive for the virus.

The new positive test for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was discovered in an Illinois man who did not require medical care.

Health officials are continuing to investigate and suggest that the public take routine steps, like washing hands, to keep themselves healthy.

"Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois resident met with the Indiana MERS patient — the first MERS case imported to the US — twice before the Indiana patient was known to have the virus. The Illinois resident had not recently traveled outside the US.

CDC reported that the Illinois resident was identified as a close contact of the first patient on May 3 and underwent two different tests for MERS. The first test examined a respiratory sample to look for active infection with MERS and was found to be negative on May 5. The second test analyzed a blood sample for evidence of a previous infection. The second test was found to be positive on May 16.

"[T]hese 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," explained CDC.

CDC noted that the Illinois resident neither sought nor required medical care and is reported to be feeling well.

"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," explained CDC.

In a press release, David Swerdlow, MD, a CDC official leading the MERS response, said that no recommendations are changing based on this new positive test.

“It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick," said Dr. Swerdlow. "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.”

CDC has recommended that the general public remember to take basic steps like washing their hands and avoiding close contact with sick people and that travelers to the Arabian Peninsula take care to notice any symptoms that develop during or after their trip.

As of May 17, a total of 572 confirmed MERS cases, including 173 deaths, had been reported in 15 countries. Symptoms commonly include fever, cough and trouble breathing, and all cases have been tied back to the Arabian Peninsula.

Review Date: 
May 19, 2014
Last Updated:
May 19, 2014