TIME health

First U.S. MERS Patient May Be Sent Home Soon

MERS
AP

Indiana health officials say the first U.S. case of the deadly virus is recovering and no hospital workers or family members have tested positive yet

The first person in the U.S. to have tested positive for the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, is almost well enough to be sent home.

Authorities in Indiana appear to have kept the first American case of the disease contained after isolating the unnamed patient. Staff and family members who came in contact with him were kept under observation and have now all tested negative for the virus.

The patient, who was diagnosed with MERS on Friday, is reportedly in better health and off supplementary oxygen, while doctors are mulling whether to discharge him from the hospital soon.

However, officials will continue to monitor those who came in contact with the patient regularly throughout the virus’ incubation period, which typically lasts 14 days.

“Having the first case of MERS in the United States appear right here in Indiana is a scary situation,” said state health commissioner William VanNess II in a statement.

“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 patient is believed to have contracted the virus while working in Saudi Arabia, where MERS was first detected two years ago. More than 400 people have since been infected in a dozen countries, nearly a third of which have been fatal cases.

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