MERS virus exposure: US hospital workers fall ill

Last Updated: Tue, May 13, 2014 21:10 hrs

Washington, May 14 (IANS) Two workers at a Florida hospital, who came into contact with a US imported case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, have fallen ill and one of them has been hospitalised, a hospital spokesperson said Tuesday.

"Yes, two of the 20 team members at our hospital who were exposed to the confirmed MERS patient have begun to show symptoms. They are not confirmed MERS cases," Geo Morales, a spokesperson for Dr P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando said in an email, Xinhua reported.

Morales said one of the two has been admitted to the hospital while the other was treated and discharged and is following precautions at home.

"Test results for the presence of MERS should come back for all 20 team members within the next two days," Morales added.

US health officials said Monday that a 44-year-old male healthcare worker who was visiting from Saudi Arabia has tested positive for the MERS virus.

The Saudi Arabian patient, the second person in the US confirmed to be infected with the virus, "is in good condition and is continuing to improve," the hospital said.

The first US case of MERS, confirmed in an American healthcare worker who came home from Saudi Arabia last month, has been released from the hospital.

So far, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases of MERS infection in 14 countries with at least 145 deaths, and all reported cases have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula.

Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Doctors do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.

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