Monday, May 19, 2014
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Illinois Department of Public Health Reactivates Hotline for MERS-CoV Questions

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[May 19, 2014]  CHICAGO – Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced additional information regarding the ongoing investigation of the first imported Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case reported in the United States. An Illinois resident considered to have had close contact with the first case has one positive test result (antibody test) indicating past infection with MERS-CoV after exposure. Additional testing is being conducted to determine if that individual is infectious at this time. The Illinois resident did not seek or require medical care. However, local health officials have monitored his health daily since May 3 as part of the investigation. At this time, the Illinois resident is reported to be feeling well. Family members who had close contact with this individual are also being closely monitored and tested.

“The risk to the general public still remains low,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “It was out of an abundance of caution that we conducted rigorous follow-up with this individual and have identified this person to have been infected with MERS-CoV at one time. Previous MERS-CoV illnesses have not shown to be spread easily from person-to-person in communities. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), working with our local health departments, will remain vigilant for any new MERS-CoV infections and we are prepared with surveillance, guidance and testing to handle any additional infections.”

Public health officials are collecting blood samples from people who were identified as close contacts of the Indiana patient. The Illinois resident met with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the patient was identified as having MERS-CoV infection. As part of the MERS_CoV follow-up investigation, the local health department in Illinois contacted the Illinois resident on May 3. The health department first tested this person for active MERS-CoV infection on May 5. Those test results were negative. On May 16, the test result was positive for the Illinois resident, showing that he has antibodies to MERS-CoV. Additional testing currently underway will determine if this person is infectious and can spread MERS-CoV.

IDPH has reactivated the expert medical staff at Illinois Poison Center to operate the MERS-CoV hotline. Illinois residents and medical professionals who have concerns or questions should call 1-844 565-0256.

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As with other respiratory illnesses, IDPH recommends people take everyday preventive actions like washing their hands often; avoiding touching their face with unwashed hands; avoiding contact with people who appear sick; and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

For more information about the infected individual and the two confirmed MERS-CoV cases in the U.S., visit  General information about MERS-CoV can be found on the IDPH website, including Frequently Asked Questions.


IDPH continues to implement its Five Year Strategy 2014-2018 to maximize IDPH’s effectiveness, influence and value for promoting wellness, health equity, safety and improved health outcomes. Strategic plan priorities include developing and expanding partnerships; improving data utilization; reducing health disparities; improving regulatory compliance; and branding, marketing and communicating IDPH’s value.

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