2 US hospital workers test negative for MERS

FILE - This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. Health officials on Friday, May 2, 2014 said the deadly virus from the Middle East has turned up for the first time in the U.S. (AP Photo/National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases via The Canadian Press, File)
FILE - This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. Health officials on Friday, May 2, 2014 said the deadly virus from the Middle East has turned up for the first time in the U.S. (AP Photo/National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases via The Canadian Press, File)

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) — Two Florida hospital employees tested negative for a rare virus days after coming into contact with a Saudi resident infected with the second confirmed MERS case in the U.S., a spokeswoman for the hospital said Wednesday.

One of the two employees tested after showing symptoms of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was hospitalized Monday, said Katie Dagenais of Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. The other was discharged the same day.

Hospital officials were still awaiting test results from 18 other health care workers who are being monitored for potentially having the virus. The workers are based at Phillips and Orlando Regional Medical Center.

MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.

The 44-year-old Saudi resident with whom the workers came into contact arrived at the emergency room at Phillips on May 8. Three days earlier, he had visited Orlando Regional Medical Center with a friend who went to the hospital for a test.

He remained in isolation Wednesday at the hospital, officials said Wednesday. He has been fever-free for 24 hours and clinically is doing well, they said.

The remaining 18 health care workers that were in contact with the man are being monitored at home for fever, chills and muscle aches.

Despite an increase in cases, the virus’ spread in the Middle East and beyond isn’t a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Dr. Kevin Sherin, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said Tuesday that although those who came into contact with the man in Orlando are being monitored, the risk to local residents remains “negligible.”

The White House also said Tuesday that President Barack Obama had been briefed on the MERS cases in the U.S. and that his team is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and officials in Florida.

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