MERS virus makes history in Munster, Indiana - KMSP-TV

MERS virus makes history in Munster, Indiana

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers arrived at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana Saturday morning. The hospital will go down in history books for treating the first U.S. case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, also known as MERS.

The patient was admitted last week. By Saturday afternoon, American Airlines was covering all bases after information was released stating the MERS patient was on an aircraft that originated in Saudi Arabia, stopping in London before landing at Chicago O-Hare International Airport last Thursday.

American Airlines emailed FOX 32 News a statement saying, “American Airlines puts the health and safety of our crew members and passengers at the forefront of everything we do, and we are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the good health of our employees and customers. We are working very closely with the Centers for Disease Control, and contacted our flight crew as soon as we learned of this diagnosis. The CDC is in the process of contacting passengers to advise them of any necessary precautions. We will continue to work under the direction of the CDC and other health care authorities.”

“So, we're monitoring the situation. Most importantly, making sure we can track all the contacts that may have flown with him or rode on the bus with him,” said Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

But long before the lone domestic MERS patient boarded a bus to his Indiana home, there were likely thousands of people who crossed his path.

“What we know about the virus is that it really takes prolonged direct contact with the person that is infected. We also know from his history that he wasn't coughing on the plane ride so the chances are that most people who even had that exposure are going to be ok,” said Hasbrouck.

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Infectious Diseases Chief Dr. Richard Novak explained why so many emerging infections have surfaced in recent years.

“Sometimes it has to do with contact with animals sources of the infection so as people are coming to contact with newer contaminate animals it appears that some of the infections are being transmitted that way,” said Novak in a phone interview with FOX 32’s Tisha Lewis.

Less than 24-hours after news broke of the first case of the MERS virus in the U.S., MERS fears and ignorance flooded social media.

The Chicago Department of Aviation released a statement saying, “The CDA has been advised that there is no reason to suspect any risk at O’Hare. There has only been one individual confirmed to have MERS Co-V and is hospitalized in Indiana.”

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