Thursday, November 27, 2014

Doctor tests negative for MERS

TORONTO—A doctor who travelled to Canada after having contact with Florida’s first MERS patient has tested negative for the virus, the Public Health Agency of Canada said yesterday.
The unidentified man is being asked to stay in the country for several more days until officials feel confident he isn’t infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome virus and that it is safe for him to travel.

It can take as long as 14-16 days to develop MERS disease and the negative test—while a good sign—is not clear-cut proof he isn’t coming down with the infection.
The man travelled to Canada on vacation and who would prefer to go home, but is co-operating fully with Canadian health authorities, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said in an interview.
His location has not been disclosed to protect his privacy.
The man, who is isolating himself in his hotel room, currently is reporting no symptoms of illness.
Taylor said the doctor had minimal contact with the Florida MERS case, and only learned of his exposure to the new virus after he arrived in Canada.
Taylor added if the man remains symptom-free, it is unlikely he would be asked to stay in Canada for the full incubation period of the disease—the time from exposure to symptom onset.
Authorities might think about letting him fly home—“if he wore a mask”—somewhere around Day 9, 10, or 11 after his May 8 exposure to the patient.
That would be sometime over the upcoming holiday weekend.
On the other hand, if he does develop symptoms, he will not be cleared to travel, Taylor stressed.
Taylor is not aware of the physician’s citizenship, but does know he does not live in Canada.
Taylor also did not know if the man was travelling alone.
The man is one of about 20 health-care workers from Florida who are being tested and monitored after they were exposed to a patient with MERS on May 8 at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando, Fla.
That patient, also a doctor, lives and works in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. The hospital where he works has treated MERS patients.
He travelled to Orlando on April 30 and May 1 via London, Boston, and Atlanta.

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