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1st U.S. Case of MERS Virus is Hospitalized in Munster

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MERS virus
The American health care worker who reportedly contracted the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, photo above) has been hospitalized and is reported to be in stable condition at Community Hospital in Muntser.

The Times is reporting this morning that the man, who remains unidentified at this time, is requiring oxygen support. Community Hospital says that it continues to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health in contacting and monitoring of patient family members and possible exposed health care workers.

The patient reportedly was recently in Saudi Arabia and flew back via London to Chicago on April 24th where he took a bus to northwest Indiana. Four days later he began experiencing shortness of breath and flu-like symptoms went to have it checked out at Community Hospital's emergency room.

While doctors say there are no vaccinations or no know treatment available ..cases can be potentially deadly. ABC News Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton says doctors have a lot to learn about the MERS virus, "Think of it like SARS, which is a respiratory virus, causing acute respiratory failure in some cases. Only, believe it or not, it appears to be even more deadly. This is a brand new virus that's only about two years old, so we're still learning a lot about it. “

Hospital officials are urging anyone who may have visited the Emergency Department at Community Hospital on April 28th between the hours of 6:30pm and 930pm to watch for signs and symptoms of a flu-like illness. And if they experiencing such symptoms, to contact their healthcare provider about possible exposure to the virus.

While health officials don't know where the respiratory virus came from or how it spreads, the first case was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. According to the CDC, there is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus. The symptoms of MERS-CoV are similar to the symptoms of influenza.
Read more about this breaking story at:  http://www.nwitimes.com/business/healthcare/first-u-s-case-of-deadly-middle-east-virus-arrives/article_73e71790-d499-5aae-9c2f-25670b9f041d.html
The symptoms of MERS-CoV are similar to the symptoms of influenza, and include:
· Congestion
· Cough
· Fever over 100.4
· Shortness of breath
· Pneumonia
· Body aches
· Diarrhea

Although the MERS-CoV infection is not easily spread from person-to-person, close contacts of people with MERS-CoV can develop infections.

We are doing everything in our power to work with the hospital, federal and other state partners, as well as the local health department to track and contain this disease in Indiana,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D.

If you do not have any of the symptoms, you can continue with your daily activities, such as going to work, school, or other public areas.
To help prevent the spread of MERS-CoV to other people, CDC advises that people follow these 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, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

The Indiana State Department of Health has established a hotline for Hoosiers to call with questions. The hotline will be open seven days a week until further notice from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The number is 1-877-826-0011.

For more information, please visit the websites below.
· Middle East Respiratory Syndrome:
http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/index.html
· About Coronavirus:
http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/index.html
· Frequently Asked MERS Questions and Answers:
http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/faq.html
· Indiana Department of Health
www.StateHealth.in.gov

For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.IN.gov. Follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.
(photo:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/things-mers-virus-now/story?id=23568378 )
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