All tests negative for MERS in Opelika hospital patient - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

All tests negative for MERS in Opelika hospital patient

East Alabama Medical Center (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) East Alabama Medical Center (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
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OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) -

All follow-up tests on a patient at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika have come back negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The unnamed patient was admitted to the hospital on August 13 with respiratory problems. Because the person recently returned from Saudia Arabia, they were placed in negative pressure isolation and a panel of respiratory tests was conducted, according to ADPH.

On August 18, ADPH confirmed all tests showed up negative and said those contacted during the investigation could stop monitoring themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control says MERS is an illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and breathing tubes. Most patients with MERS develop severe acute respiratory illness and symptoms that include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.

MERS was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, and every case has been linked to countries in or near the Middle East's Arabian Peninsula. ADPH investigators said the EAMC patient was admitted on Thursday with respiratory problems and has a history of recently returning from Saudi Arabia.

The mortality rate is around 30 to 40 percent, according to CDC data.

The disease can be spread through close contact, such as living with or caring for an infected person. There is no known vaccine. Health officials recommend prevention habits such as washing your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-base hand sanitizer, for 20 seconds, and cleaning often-touched surfaces.  

ON THE WEB: CDC information on MERS

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct mortality rate figures to say approximately 40 percent. CDC figures stated 3-4 die out of 10, which was incorrectly interpreted as 3 out of 4, or 75 percent, in this story.

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