IDPH: Test Shows Third US MERS Case (Illinois Resident) Cannot Spread Virus

CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck today announced the Illinois resident who previously tested positive for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) antibodies in his blood, has again tested negative for the ability to spread the virus.

“The second round of test results from oral and nasal swabs show the Illinois resident is not infectious,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “What this means is, although the resident was infected at one time, if he sneezes or coughs, the virus is not in his nose or mouth and therefore cannot be spread to others. The risk of MERS-CoV to the general public remains very low. We will continue to follow-up with this individual.”

Health officials first tested this person using oral and nasal swabs for active MERS-CoV infection on May 5. Those test results were negative. On May 16, a blood test result was positive for the Illinois resident, showing that he had antibodies to MERS-CoV. Over the weekend, the resident was again tested using oral and nasal swabs and those have come back negative. Additional blood testing related to his positive MERS-CoV antibody test result is currently underway.

Health officials continue to follow-up with anyone who had close contact with the Illinois resident. Family members who had close contact with the Illinois resident have all tested negative, but will continue to be monitored.

The Illinois resident is considered to have had close contact with the first imported case in the United States, a Saudi Arabian resident who traveled to Indiana on April 24. All people considered to have had close contact with first case have been followed-up with and closely monitored.

“MERS-CoV is a relatively new virus and we still have much to learn about it, including how it is transmitted. The World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state health departments and local health departments continue to investigate this virus as well as identify new cases around the world, conduct testing and implement infection control practices,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “Additional cases are expected, but we are working diligently to eliminate the spread of this virus.”

As with other respiratory illnesses, IDPH recommends people take everyday preventive actions like washing their hands often; avoiding touching their face with unwashed hands; avoiding contact with people who appear sick; and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

IDPH has reactivated the expert medical staff at Illinois Poison Center to operate the MERS-CoV hotline. Illinois residents and medical professionals who have concerns or questions should call 1-844 565-0256.

For more information about the infected individual and the two confirmed MERS-CoV cases in the U.S., visit General information about MERS-CoV can be found on the IDPH MERS web page, and the MERS Frequently Asked Questions page.

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