(HealthDay News) — An Illinois man thought to have contracted the potentially fatal MERS virus from a business associate was not infected after all, federal health officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 17 that the unidentified Illinois man had been infected with MERS by a man who brought the first known case of the mysterious respiratory illness to the United States in late April. That first case was a health care worker who had traveled to Saudi Arabia — the epicenter of the MERS outbreak — and returned to the United States before falling ill and being hospitalized in Indiana and later released.

Preliminary tests indicated that the Illinois man had tested positive for antibodies for MERS, formally called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Since then, however, CDC scientists tested additional blood samples and found that he was not infected with MERS. So, the Indiana MERS patient didn’t spread the virus to his Illinois business associate, officials said Wednesday.

That means that the MERS virus hasn’t been found in any people who had contact with the two confirmed U.S. cases, according to the CDC. There’s no evidence that MERS has spread in any community setting, the CDC said. Both of the Americans diagnosed with MERS picked up the infection in Saudi Arabia, where it is endemic. The health risk from MERS to the general public is very low, U.S. officials have said, because the virus is only passed through close contact.

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