CDC Media Briefing: Update on MERS Testing of Illinois Resident

CDC announced on May 28 through a media briefing that definitive testing on samples from the Illinois individual who was believed to have contracted MERS from the Indiana patient have been completed. These test results indicate that this individual was not exposed to MERS during his business meetings with the Indiana patient. CDC stated that, as a result of these findings, the contact investigation is now limited to only those who have had prolonged contact with either the Indiana or Florida patients.

CDC emphasized the importance of acting quickly on preliminary testing, even though this testing is not as reliable as definitive testing. Since results from definitive testing for MERS take at least five days, taking steps to limit potential exposure to MERS based on less reliable preliminary testing is necessary to protect the public. Because MERS is a new virus, tests are new and labor intensive. The accuracy of tests will improve as CDC, WHO and other organizations learn more about the disease.

CDC mentioned that the local health department that has been responsible for interacting with the Illinois resident has maintained a good relationship with this individual throughout the investigation by working to minimize inconveniences to him and his family.

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About Frances Bevington

Frances Bevington is the Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist for Public Health Preparedness at NACCHO. Her work includes emergency and risk communications planning, strategic messaging, and multichannel marketing for the adoption of best practices in public health preparedness. Twitter: @Wilkington

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