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MERS coronavirus alert: First case in the U.S. being treated in Indiana

MERS coronavirus now in the U.S.
MERS coronavirus now in the U.S.
National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases

A deadly virus has now landed on U.S. soil, the NWI Times reported May 2.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus a.k.a. MERS coronavirus, a deadly virus first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, is showing it's first case in the states at Community Hospital in Northwest Indiana. The method the virus worked it's way into the states using is the stuff of medical horror novels.

Virus timeline
*April 24, an infected healthcare worker flew from Saudi Arabia to London
*Patient then flew from London to Chicago
*Patient took a bus from Chicage to Indiana

The Indiana's Governor's Office, the Indiana State Department of Health as well as Community Hospital in Munster all recognized and identified this rapidly spread rare virus. As of this week, laboratory testing showed 262 people in 12 countries have had the disease, with 93 deaths reported.

Symptoms for the disease are
*congestion
*fever
*shortness of breath
*pneumonia
*body aches
*diarrhea

Community Hospital says all persons who have come into contact with the virus have been isolated. Contacts of the sick health care worker, as well as exposed hospital staff are being monitored during a 14-day incubation period. The hospital is working with the ISDH and the CDC.

In a May 3 report on CNN, the first case, a man, started experience symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing and fever on April 27.

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health doesn't consider those on the plane or bus as high risk. The CSC and the IDPH are conducting their own investigation, since the carrier was in the city at the time he was contagious.

Although results haven't been confirmed by the World Health Organization, Saudi Ministry of Health has reported 339 cases, with one third of cases being fatal.

The virus is scary, for one reason because no one knows where it originated, nor how it's spread. Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service and Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases says the virus is most likely to spread in healthcare settings, rather than within a community.

There is no known treatment or vaccine to prevent the MERS covonarirus. According to Dr. Schuchat, the U.S. has been preparing for the virus to make its way here.

Officials are telling the public MERS isn't a health danger at this time.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is working with the ISDH and the CDC on prevention, treating and overall risk to the public.

As with most viruses, the best prevention is thorough hand washing, using a sanitizer and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Cleaning contact surfaces, and staying away from people with any virus is good common sense.

Anyone who believes they've been exposed to the virus should contact their doctor immediately.