Illinois Man Catches MERS From Indiana Man

Posted on May 17, 2014

The CDC reports that an Illinois man has caught MERS from an Indiana man. The man was never outside of the U.S. and met with the Indiana patient twice. The man tested positive for MERS but has had a very mild case. He has not been hospitalized and did not require medical care for his minor symptoms.

The Indiana case was the very first in the U.S. Health officials have been monitoring the contacts of the Indiana MERS patient, who was hospitalized in an Indiana hospital on April 28 and has since recovered and been released. There are up to 60 contacts the CDC has been monitoring.

The CDC says the lab test results "suggest that the Illinois resident probably got the virus from the Indiana patient and the person's body developed antibodies to fight the virus."

David Swerdlow, M.D., who is leading CDC's MERS-CoV response, says, "This latest development does not change CDC's current 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. 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."

CIDRAP reports that the Illinois man met with the Indiana MERS patient on two separate occasions. The first meeting was for 30 to 40 minutes and the second meeting was much shorter. CIDRAP says they "shook hands and were within 6 feet of each other."

The fact that the man had a very mild case of MERS is reassuring, but it is not good to see human to human transmission resulting from the very first U.S. case. The virus is not thought to spread easily from human to human, but there is really very little data on the virus as there have only been 570 cases in the world, with over 170 deaths. The is the third MERS case in the U.S. The second case was a patient in Orlando who had been traveling in Saudi Arabia like the first patient.

Dr. Richard Bresser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, says in an ABC News report, "With most (if not all) infectious diseases, there is a spectrum of disease following infection, ranging from asymptomatic transmission to full-blown fatal disease. While we don't know the full extent of contact between the two individuals, it does suggest that transmission is possible through somewhat casual contact."