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First U.S. MERS Patient Improving, Officials Say

CDC working with airline, bus company to ID people who may have come in contact with patient

MONDAY, May 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A man hospitalized in Indiana with the first U.S. case of a deadly respiratory virus that initially surfaced in the Middle East two years ago is improving, state health officials reported Saturday.

The Indiana Department of Health said in a statement released late Saturday night that the patient remains at Community Hospital in Munster, is in good condition, and is "improving each day," the Associated Press reported. The statement also said that no other cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, have been identified, according to the AP.

The unidentified patient is a health care professional who had been working in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of the viral outbreak of MERS, federal health officials said Friday. The man took a plane on April 24 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to London, then from London to Chicago. He next took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On April 27, he started experiencing "respiratory symptoms," and was admitted to the Indiana hospital the next day, the CDC said. Because of the patient's symptoms -- shortness of breath, coughing, and fever -- and travel history, Indiana health officials tested for MERS and confirmed the infection Friday afternoon, CDC officials said.

The CDC is working with the airline and the bus company to track down people who may have come in contact with the patient, Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Friday news conference. People who come down with respiratory illness within 12 weeks of traveling to Saudi Arabia should notify their doctor, Schuchat said. The same goes for someone who becomes ill after contact with a person who has recently traveled to Saudi Arabia. However, the CDC has not recommended that anyone change their travel plans based on the MERS virus, she said.

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