By now, you’ve probably read or heard about the Illinois resident who contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection after close contact with an Indiana MERS patient.
The Kane County Health Department website is a great source for information whenever you have questions or concerns about health issues. You can find more about MERS and get a ton of helpful information by visiting the Health Department homepage and clicking on the icon in the upper left portion of the screen that says, “NEW: MERS UPDATES.”
You also can follow Health Department alerts by liking its Facebook page.
If you do that, you’ll find out that the Illinois resident did not seek or require medical care, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, local health officials have monitored his health daily since May 3 as part of the investigation. At this time, the Illinois resident is reported to be feeling well.
The reason for the concern, of course, is that MERS is a virus that is new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. As of May 16, there have been 572 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS in 15 countries, according to the CDC. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough and shortness of breath; 173 people died. Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.
At this time, CDC’s recommendations to the public, travelers and healthcare providers are as follows:
- For the general public: While experts do not yet know exactly how this virus is spread, CDC routinely advises that people help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by taking 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.
- For travelers: CDC currently does not recommend that anyone change their travel plans. If you are traveling to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula, CDC recommends that you pay attention to your health during and after your trip. The CDC travel notice for MERS-CoV was upgraded to a level 2 alert. The travel notice advises people traveling to the Arabian Peninsula for health care work to follow CDC’s recommendations for infection control, and other travelers to the Arabian Peninsula to take general steps to protect their health.
- Healthcare professionals should evaluate patients for MERS-CoV infection who have
- (A) fever and pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome, and either
- (B) or anyone who has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of MERS while the person was ill, in consultation with state and local health departments.
For more information about MERS-CoV, please visit:
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/index.html
- Frequently Asked MERS Questions and Answers: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/faq.html
- Indiana State Department of Health: http://www.state.in.us/isdh/
- Illinois Department of Public Health: http://www.idph.state.il.us/
MERS Resources & Notices (these links are from the Kane County Health Department website):
- 5-13-14 MERS-CoV: Evaluation and Testing of Patients IDPH/CDC
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Patient Under Investigation (PUI) Short Form
- MERS-CoV Case Definitions Patient Under Investigation (PUI)
- Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Version 2
- Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
- Healthcare Facility Preparedness Checklist
- requently Asked Questions and Answers about MERS