Negative test results for those exposed to MERS; Patient improves

FILE - This file photo shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. Health officials on Friday, May 2, 2014 said the deadly virus from the Middle East has turned up for the first time in the U.S. (AP File Photo/National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases/The Canadian Press)
FILE - This file photo shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. Health officials on Friday, May 2, 2014 said the deadly virus from the Middle East has turned up for the first time in the U.S. (AP File Photo/National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases/The Canadian Press)

MUNSTER, Ind. (WLFI) — Preliminary test results show that all hospital employees and family members who came in contact with the patient are negative for MERS.

Gov. Mike Pence was at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind. Wednesday, along with state and federal health officials, to provide an update about the patient with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, and the ongoing investigation.

The MERS patient, who is a U.S. citizen living and working in Saudi Arabia, is doing better each day and is expected to be released from the hospital soon.

“We are proud of the collaboration and cooperation among the CDC, the Indiana State Department of Health, and Munster Community Hospital,” Pence said in a press release to News 18. “Working together, they did an excellent job in protecting the public health. We commend all involved.”

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, they are continuing to work with the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor the situation and prevent the spread of the virus.

As a precaution, the health department is trying to reach out to airline and bus passengers who may have come into contact with the patient during travel. Individuals who took a shuttle bus from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to Highland, Ind. on April 24, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. CST, are asked to call the CDC Hotline at 866-933-5295.

The Community Hospital Chief Medical Information Officer, Alan Kumar, M.D., said employee test results are all negative at this point.

“Which is great news,” Kumar said about the results. “We have contained the exposure at this point, and out of vigilance, we will continue to monitor the situation.”

To reduce risk of disease, follow these CDC tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people, such as kissing, sharing cups or sharing eating utensils.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

For more information on MERS call the Indiana State Department of Health Hotline at 877-826-0011, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, or visit the State Health website.

 

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