MERS-CoV picA healthcare worker who recently returned from Saudi Arabia is the first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the U.S.  The person’s in stable condition in isolation in an Indiana hospital.

All public health agencies around the world have been carefully watching for new cases of MERS since the disease was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. There’ve been 401 cases, 93 have died.

CDC’s not releasing a lot of information about the first case, except to say the patient was providing healthcare in Saudi Arabia and started experiencing severe respiratory symptoms after returning to the states.  Based on the patient’s symptoms and travel history, the hospital sent a sample to the Indiana state lab, where it tested positive for MERS-CoV.  Today, the CDC confirmed the positive result. We can do this testing at our state lab too.

The virus causes severe respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus has spread person-to-person among family members and close contacts… but there hasn’t been any sustained transmission.  The CDC and others are working together to track down all people who have been in contact with this patient.  At this point, no other cases have been detected.