CDC: First Imported MERS Coronavirus Case In the United States
Coronavirus – Credit CDC PHIL
The CDC has just completed a hastily called press conference, headed by the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat and Pamela Pontones, State Epidemiologist, Indiana State Department of Health, to discuss the first imported case of MERS into the United States.
Admiral Schuchat, as many will remember, distinguished herself with her expertly handled press conferences during the opening weeks of the 2009 pandemic.
(AKA= excuse for no steps taken to stop it at source) The arrival of a MERS case into the United States was considered almost inevitable, given the amount of international travelers this country receives, aided by the relatively long incubation period (up to 14 days) for the virus. Dr. Schuchat stated that the CDC `expected the arrival of the virus’, and that local, state, and national public health agencies have been preparing for this eventuality for over a year..
The CDC released an emailed summary, which states:
On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon.
“It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk (no evidence but best guess and hope) to the general public,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.
CDC and Indiana health officials are not yet sure how the patient became infected with the virus. Exposure may have occurred in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials also do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient.
Admiral Schuchat stated that the risk to the general public was `very low’, but that out of `an abundance of caution’ (AKA: CYAs) aggressive airline, bus, and hospital contract tracing was being undertaken by state and federal authorities. Dr. Schuchat also warned that the situation is very fluid, and the CDC’s guidance and recommendations could change over coming days.