Healthcare Worker Hospitalized After Contact With Orlando MERS Patient

May 14, 2014

Credit Center for Disease Control

A healthcare worker is in the hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms after interacting with a patient with the MERS virus in Central Florida. Officials say MERS - which stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - is unlikely to spread far from the man at Orlando's Dr. P. Phillip's Hospital.

The 44 year-old man caught the virus at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. He was near others on the plane, at Orlando Regional Medical Center and at Dr. P. Phillip's. But, officials say, he didn't have a cough during most of that time, and the virus spreads through very close contact with infected bodily fluids.

Dr. Kevin Sherin is Director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

"The risk to the healthcare workers who were caring for him immediately, there might be perhaps a subset that might be at a somewhat greater risk", Sherin said. "Or, the household members there'd be at greater risk – but not those that were in the waiting areas of those two venues."

Officials say 19 other healthcare workers who were near the man are on mandatory leave for two weeks.

The Centers for Disease Controls says MERS kills about 30% of those infected.