CDC says they erred in initial MERS report


McClatchy Washington Bureau

- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that they erred on May 17 in reporting that an Illinois man had tested positive for MERS antibodies after a business meeting with an Indiana MERS patient.

The Illinois man, who had extended face-to-face contact with the Indiana MERS patient, tested negative for the disease after the meeting.

But later test results announced by the CDC on May 17 indicated that the Illinois man appeared to be positive for MERS antibodies, which suggests that a person had been previously infected with the virus and developed an immune response.

But additional CDC testing has shown the Illinois man was not previously infected with MERS.

“While we never want to cause undue concern among those who have had contact with a MERS patient, it is our job to move quickly when there is a potential public health threat,” said Dr. David Swerdlow, who heads CDC’s MERS response efforts. “Because there is still much we don’t know about this virus, we will continue to err on the side of caution when responding to and investigating cases of MERS in this country.”

The first confirmed MERS cases in the US - the first in Indiana on May 2 and the second in Florida on May 11 – have sparked large, multi-state investigations and efforts to minimize the spread of the virus.

All MERS cases have been linked to countries around the Arabian Peninsula. In some cases, the virus has spread person to person through close contact. But the CDC maintains there is no evidence of the sustained spread of MERS in community settings.

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