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Illinois health officials reassure residents after first case of ‘serious virus’ found in U.S.

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After discovering a person with a “serious virus” traveled to the U.S., Illinois health officials were working to monitor the situation.

On Thursday, April 24, 2014 a patient with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) traveled to Chicago O’Hare International Airport from London and then took a bus to Indiana.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MERS-CoV is a respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. People who came down with the infection had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Roughly 30 percent of people who have developed the illness have died.

“This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact,” said a spokesperson from the CDC.

Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said the department was working with the Center for Disease Control and the Chicago Department of Public Health in regards to the patient. Hasbrouck also said they wanted to reassure other travelers of their own well-being.

“The CDC, IDPH, and CDPH do not consider passengers on the flight or bus to be close contacts of the patient and therefore are not at high risk,” Hasbrouck said.

The IDPH planned to start contacting those passengers starting Saturday, May 3 as a precautionary measure.

“There is no reason to suspect any current risk to travelers or employees at O’Hare Airport at this time,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair.

Medical staff from the Illinois Poison Center have been called upon to man a MERS-CoV hotline. Anyone with questions or concerns about MERS-CoV may call 1-844-565-0256.

For more information about MERS-CoV, click here.