First U.S. MERS patient released from Community Hospital in Munster

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MUNSTER, Ind (May 9, 2014)– The individual who was being treated for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was released from Community Hospital in Munster today, health officials say.

The patient is considered to be fully recovered and has been cleared by health officials to come off of isolation and may travel, if necessary.

“The patient has tested negative for MERS, is no longer symptomatic and poses no threat to the community,” said Dr. Alan Kumar, chief medical information officer, Community Hospital in Munster. “Community Hospital finalized its discharge plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health, and the patient was discharged from the hospital. We are proud of our medical staff for recognizing and responding quickly to this incident, and we wish to thank the CDC and the ISDH for their assistance and collaboration.”

Multiple tests done at different times by the Indiana State Laboratory and CDC were negative for the presence of ongoing MERS-CoV infection in the patient. No additional cases of MERS have been identified.

“The hospital and the State Health Department are taking every precaution as the patient is released,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner William C. VanNess II, M.D. “This case demonstrates that any infectious disease in the world is only a plane ride away. I encourage all of our healthcare providers to remain vigilant in looking for any future cases.”

On April 24, the patient traveled from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London then to Chicago by air, arrived at O’Hare Airport and traveled by bus to the Highland, Indiana area. The CDC and state health departments have contacted the vast majority of passengers on the flights and the bus; none of them are symptomatic.

There has been no evidence of community-level transmission of this virus, such as from casual contact.

Hospital staff who had direct contact with the patient continue to remain off-duty and in temporary home isolation and are being closely monitored for symptoms. These staff members will be allowed to return to work following the incubation period and confirmed negative laboratory results.

The Indiana State Department of Health has closed the MERS hotline, as calls have slowed down significantly.

“This case of MERS in Indiana vividly demonstrates the critical role of public health in the community,” said Dr. VanNess. “I’m especially proud of our staff at the Indiana State Department of Health, including our epidemiologists, and our public affairs and State Laboratory teams for working around the clock to confirm this disease, track it, and communicate with Hoosiers and the world about the situation as it has progressed.”

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