MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is similar to SARS and originated in the Middle East. MERS has killed an estimated 145 people worldwide.
Doctors say two Orlando health care workers who were exposed to the patient with MERS tested negative for the virus. The hospital is waiting for test results for 18 other employees who may have been exposed and sent home as a precaution.
“It has a very high mortality rate,” said Dr. William Schnaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center. “About a third of the people who have acquired this infection died of it.”
The virus causes coughing, fever and sometimes pneumonia. More than 500 people have been infected this year, with the majority of cases in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this month a patient in Indiana was hospitalized with MERS, but has since been released.
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