Photo: NIAID (Flickr)
An Illinois resident, who was the business associate of the man who was diagnosed with MERS in Indiana, has also tested positive for the respiratory virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Illinois resident is the third identified case of MERS in the U.S. The first was the man from Indiana who tested positive for the disease in late April, and the second case was identified in Florida earlier this month.
The tests are preliminary, but CDC officials say the Illinois resident likely contracted the virus from the Indiana patient because he did not travel outside of the U.S. recently and met with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the Indiana man tested positive for MERS.
Health officials both with the CDC and outside groups have said MERS does not easily transfer from human to human and is more likely to transfer from animals such as camels.
But CDC officials say the most recent case does not change the recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS.
“It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick,” David Swerdlow, who is leading CDC’s MERS response, said in a statement. “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.”
The CDC reports the Illinois resident did not seek medical help but has been monitored since May 3 as part of the investigation after the first case was identified at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind. He tested negative for the virus on May 5, but then tested positive Friday.
However, he is reported to be feeling well.
Both the patients in the two previous MERS cases in the U.S. were health care workers in Saudi Arabia.