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MERS may have spread in a Florida hospital

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(Bloomberg) — Two workers at an Orlando, Fla., hospital treating a patient with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have fallen ill after coming into contact with the patient.

One of the workers has been hospitalized and isolated, according to Geo Morales, a spokesman for Dr. P. Phillips Hospital.

The other worker was treated and sent home, Morales said.

“Everyone has been tested for the virus and we are waiting for results,” Morales said in an e-mail. He provided no other details about the patients.

The patient with the confirmed case of MERS is a resident of Saudi Arabia. The man fell ill while visiting relatives in the Orlando area.

Public health authorities first identified the coronavirus that causes MERS, MERS-CoV, in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The patient in Orlando was the second person in the United States to have a confirmed case of MERS.

The first case in the United States involved a health care worker from Indiana who returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia in April. The Indiana patient has fully recovered, and no new cases have been identified in Indiana, Indiana health authorities said.

The Florida cases and the Indiana case are unrelated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health care workers who have contact with MERS-CoV patients before the patients are properly isolated may risk contracting the virus, CDC officials said.

MERS-CoV has caused 538 cases of illness in 12 countries and 145 deaths, including 112 deaths in Saudi Arabia, CDC officials said Monday.

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