SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

CDC confirms Illinois man did not have MERS

The CDC announced on Wednesday that a Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) patient from Indiana did not give the disease to an Illinois man.

The Illinois resident is a close associate of the Indiana patient, and the two had extended face-to-face contact after the man from Indiana returned from Saudi Arabia, where he was believed to have contracted MERS-CoV. Preliminary tests of the Illinois man showed MERS-CoV antibodies, indicating he had previously been infected by the disease.

CDC scientists have since taken more blood samples and conducted more definitive tests, and concluded that the man from Illinois did not have MERS-CoV antibodies.

"While we never want to cause undue concern among those who have had contact with a MERS patient, it is our job to move quickly when there is a potential public health threat," David Swerdlow, who is leading the CDC's MERS-CoV response, said. "Because there is still much we don't know about this virus, we will continue to err on the side of caution when responding to and investigating cases of MERS in this country."

Two people in the U.S. have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV so far. No contacts of the patients have been reported to have the virus, although testing is ongoing.

Most cases of MERS-CoV are characterized by an acute respiratory illness with a cough, fever or shortness of breath. More than 450 cases of the disease were confirmed in Saudi Arabia as of May of this year. Approximately 30 percent of those who were confirmed to have the disease died.