Florida MERS patient released from hospital

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) - A man from Saudi Arabia who is one of three patients diagnosed with a Middle East respiratory virus in the United States has been released from an Orlando, Florida, hospital.

Officials from the state health department and Dr. P. Phillips Hospital said in a news release Monday that the 44-year-old unidentified man has been discharged.

They say the man has recovered from the virus and is now testing negative for Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

Officials say at least 20 health care workers at two Orlando hospitals came into contact with the man, and they all have tested negative, too.

A man in Indiana and an Illinois man who came into contact with that person are the other two cases of MERS in the United States. It's the first person-to-person case, but health experts still believe the risk to the general public remains low. "They were in the same breathing zone, the two of them, this is the kind of thing that will happen from time-to-time," says Dr. William Schaffner.

The outbreak began in Saudi Arabia two years ago. Since then, there have been about 600 cases in 15 countries.

The Centers for Disease Control has posted warnings about the virus in U.S. airports and does not plan to take any further precautions.

There is no vaccine for MERS but patients can be treated to relieve symptoms which include fever, cough, chills, body ache and sore throat. The Illinois man never needed medical treatment and is said to be feeling fine.


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