News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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May 7, 2014

Hospital workers, patient’s family test negative for MERS

Patient may be released from hospital soon

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mike Pence, state and federal health officials joined Community Hospital in Munster today to provide an update about the MERS patient and the ongoing investigation. Preliminary laboratory test results show that all hospital employees who came into contact with the patient, as well as the patient’s close family contacts, are negative for MERS.

“We are proud of the collaboration and cooperation among the CDC, the Indiana State Department of Health, and Munster Community Hospital,” Gov.Pence said. “Working together, they did an excellent job in protecting the public health. We commend all involved.”

The MERS patient, who is a U.S. citizen living and working in Saudi Arabia, is doing better each day and is expected to be released from the hospital soon.

“Having the first case of MERS in the United States appear right here in Indiana is a scary situation and I understand the concerns felt by those who live and work in the Chicago and northwestern Indiana area,” said Dr. William VanNess II, state health commissioner. “I want to assure everyone that our state medical experts, CDC and Community Hospital in Munster have been working around the clock to contain the spread of this disease and protect Americans.”

The Indiana State Department of Health continues to work with the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to monitor the situation and prevent the spread of the virus. Out of an abundance of caution, health officials continue to reach out to airline and bus passengers who may have come into contact with the patient during travel.

Individuals who took a shuttle bus from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to Highland, Ind., on April 24, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. CST, are asked to call the CDC hotline at 866-933-5295. There has been no evidence of community-level transmission of this virus, such as from casual contact.

Hospital staff who had direct contact with the patient continue to remain off-duty and in temporary home isolation and are being closely monitored for symptoms. These staff members will be allowed to return to work following the incubation period and confirmed negative laboratory results.

“Employee test results are all negative at this point, which is great news,” said Dr. Alan Kumar, Community Hospital chief medical information officer. “We have contained the exposure at this point, and out of vigilance, we will continue to monitor the situation.”

For questions about MERS, call the Indiana State Department of Health hotline at 877-826-0011, which is being answered daily, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. A voicemail system is available for callers to leave a message during off hours. All calls will be returned first thing the following morning.

To keep you and your family healthy by reducing your risk of disease, follow CDC’s tips below:

· 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.

For more information, 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 State Department of Health

www.StateHealth.in.gov

For important health updates, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.

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