No new Middle East virus cases reported; governor to join media briefing

2014-05-04T20:00:00Z 2014-05-13T23:28:06Z No new Middle East virus cases reported; governor to join media briefingTimes staff nwitimes.com
May 04, 2014 8:00 pm  • 

MUNSTER | A patient at Community Hospital with the first U.S. case of a deadly virus from the Middle East remains in good condition and is improving daily, according to a statement released Sunday by the Indiana State Department of Health.

No new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, had been reported in the state as of Sunday, the department said.

Gov. Mike Pence will join public health officials and Community Hospital leaders for a media briefing about the virus at 10 a.m. Monday at the hospital in Munster.

The Department of Health is working with the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to monitor the situation and prevent the virus' spread. Representatives from the CDC arrived Saturday in Indianapolis to assist and arrived at the hospital Sunday morning.

Because symptoms of MERS may take up to 14 days to occur, hospital staff who had direct contact with the patient before the patient was placed in full isolation have been taken off duty and placed in temporary home isolation. Those people will be allowed to return to work once the incubation period is over and they test negative for the virus. There have been no reported cases of people without symptoms transmitting this virus, the statement said.

“The patient is in full isolation and presents no risk to patients, staff or the general community,” said Don Fesko, CEO of Community Hospital. “We are thoroughly prepared to handle respiratory infections. We continue to work closely with the CDC and State Health Department and are following every recommendation. Safety is our top priority.”

Federal and state health officials on Friday said the patient, whose identity has not been released, flew from Saudi Arabia to the United States on April 24, with a stop in London. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to Indiana. He didn't become sick until April 27, the CDC said.

He went to the emergency room at Community Hospital with a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

“We are very pleased the patient is improving and no other cases have been identified at this time,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess II. “The individual has received excellent care while at Community Hospital in Munster. The swift diagnosis and precautionary measures taken have undoubtedly greatly helped reduce the risk of this potentially serious virus spreading.”

Pence, VanNess, Fesko, Dr. Daniel Feikin, medical epidemiologist and team leader for the CDC, and Alan Kumar, chief medial information officer for Community Hospital, will provide updates and answer questions at Monday's media briefing.

As of Friday, 262 people in 12 countries were confirmed to have MERS and 93 died. More than 100 other patients have a confirmed case but are not included in the World Health Organization tally, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general, U.S. public health service and director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

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