Tests show no person-to-person MERS transmission in US

MERS-CoV particles as seen by negative stain electron microscopy. Virions contain characteristic club-like projections emanating from the viral membrane. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tests have shown that a US man suffering from the Middle East Respiratory virus, MERS, did not spread it to another person as first reported, health authorities said Wednesday.

That means only two US cases of MERS have been documented so far, not three. Both patients were healthcare workers who became ill while working in Saudi Arabia, and both have recovered.

Further lab tests showed that the Illinois man who was reported to have caught MERS after meeting in May with an Indiana man who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia actually did not have the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"After completing additional and more definitive laboratory tests, CDC officials have concluded that an Indiana MERS patient did not spread the virus to an Illinois associate during a business meeting they had before the patient became ill and was hospitalized," said a CDC statement.

Initial tests had appeared to show the presence of antibodies that would suggest the Illinois man had a previous MERS infection, the CDC said on May 17.

"CDC scientists have since tested additional blood samples and completed the slower, definitive serology test, the neutralizing antibody , which requires at least five days before a result is available," the agency said on Wednesday.

"Based on the result of all of these tests, which require careful interpretation, CDC has concluded that the Illinois resident was not previously infected with MERS-CoV."

That would have been the first person-to-person MERS transmission within the United States.

The contagious respiratory illness can cause fever, chills, and sometimes death among people who are older or are already ill.

Of 536 cases reported since April 2012, 145 have been fatal, according to the World Health Organization's latest tally as of May 9.

Most cases have been in Saudi Arabia, but the virus has been imported to more than a dozen other countries. All of those cases have involved people who became ill while in the Middle East.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Two US hospital workers test negative for MERS

May 14, 2014

Two healthcare workers at a Florida hospital that is caring for a Saudi patient with the dangerous MERS virus have tested negative for the illness, the hospital said Wednesday.

Netherlands reports first case of MERS virus

May 14, 2014

A first case of the dangerous Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) has been detected in the Netherlands, in a man who had travelled to Saudi Arabia, authorities said Wednesday.

Florida MERS patient released from hospital

May 19, 2014

A man from Saudi Arabia who is one of three patients diagnosed with an infection from a Middle East respiratory virus in the United States has been released from a hospital.

Recommended for you

Routines most vital in avoiding Ebola infection: WHO

13 minutes ago

Meticulously following stringent routines when putting on and removing protective equipment is more important than the kind of gear health care workers use to ward off Ebola infection, the World Health Organization said Friday.

A look at latest Ebola developments

1 hour ago

No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight Ebola. With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its ...

Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

1 hour ago

Liberia's president opened one of the country's largest Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia on Friday, remembering the days when "the dying, the sick, the dead who could not picked up on time" as officials ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.