The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana Department of Health have confirmed today the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the United States in a traveler returning from Saudi Arabia.
According to the investigation, on April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever.
The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon.
“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”
Frieden continues, “In this interconnected world we live in, we expected MERS-CoV to make its way to the United States. We have been preparing since 2012 for this possibility.”
Federal, state, and local health officials are taking action to minimize the risk of spread of the virus. The Indiana hospital is using full precautions to avoid exposure within the hospital and among healthcare professionals and other people interacting with the patient, as recommended by CDC.
In July 2013, CDC posted checklists and resource lists for healthcare facilities and providers to assist with preparing to implement infection control precautions for MERS-CoV. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.
The federal health agency notes, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died.
Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.