Health Officials: MERS Patient Could Return Home Soon

The man being treated at Community Hospital in Munster for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is now in good condition and could go home soon, health officials said at a press conference this morning.

Doctors are not identifying the man, but they say he is a health care worker who traveled late last month from Saudi Arabia, where he works at a hospital, to Indiana, where he has family.

The man admitted himself to the hospital last week because of flu like symptoms. Tests and interviews with his family, confirmed he had MERS, a respiratory virus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. All 261 confirmed MERS cases worldwide have been linked to six countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula.

About 50 health workers who came in contact with the patient tested negative for MERS.  They also were taken off duty and are in temporary home isolation.

Health officials say they have also contacted about three-fourths of the other passengers who could have come in contact with the patient during his travels and none show signs of MERS.

Centers for Disease Control medical epidemiologist Daniel Feikin says it’s unlikely the virus would be passed along through casual contact but they are still taking precautions.

“When the patient is released, he will be on home isolation,” Feikin says. “His family is already isolated, and if they leave the house, must wear a mask.”

The patient initially required oxygen, but doctors at the Community Hospital say he is improving rapidly.

Symptoms of MERS may take up to 14 days to occur. There are currently no travel restrictions to or from Saudi Arabia.

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