Community Hospital in Munster | File photo
Updated: June 11, 2014 6:17AM
A patient at Community Hospital in Munster, the first diagnosed with Middle East respiratory syndrome in the nation, was discharged Friday.
“The patient has tested negative for MERS, is no longer symptomatic and poses no threat to the community,” said Dr. Alan Kumar, the hospital’s chief medical information officer.
The hospital finalized its discharge plan with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department, according to a news release from the hospital.
It said the patient, whose identify has not been disclosed, has been cleared to come off isolation and may travel.
“This case demonstrates that any infectious disease in the world is only a plane ride away,” Indiana Health Commissioner William VanNess said. “I encourage all of our health care providers to remain vigilant in looking for any future (MERS) cases.”
The patient flew April 24 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to London and later to O’Hare International Airport, then traveled by bus to Highland, hospital officials said.
The CDC and state health departments have contacted most passengers on those flights, and none have shown symptoms of MERS, the hospital said, and there has been no evidence of community-level transmission.
Staff at Community Hospital who had direct contact with the patient remain off duty in temporary home isolation, and they will be allowed to return to work following the incubation period and confirmed negative test results, according to the news release.
MERS is believed to have originated in the Middle East about 2011 or 2012 and has killed about 30 percent of the patients it infects. Most of those are elderly patients who had other health issues.