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Florida Hospital Workers Test Negative for MERS Virus

Two Florida hospital workers suspected of exposure to a potentially lethal Arabian virus have tested negative for the disease, a hospital spokesman said.

A Saudi Arabian patient who was confirmed to be infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and admitted to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando has been fever-free for 24 hours and “clinically is doing well,” Geo Morales, a spokesman for the hospital, said in an e-mail.

The Florida patient is the second confirmed U.S. case of the coronavirus, called MERS-CoV, which the World Health Organization said has infected at least 583 people worldwide, killing 145 of them. There is no vaccine or cure for the virus first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012; patients are treated for symptoms including respiratory distress, fever and coughing.

Two emergency-room workers at the Orlando hospital fell ill on May 12 after coming into contact with the patient. One was treated and released; the other was admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation. While those workers weren’t infected with the virus, the hospital is testing 18 additional workers, Morales said.

The first U.S. patient, an Indiana health-care worker who returned from a trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 24, has fully recovered and no new cases have been identified in that state.

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