WASHINGTON, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Two workers at a Florida hospital who fell ill after caring for the second case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in the U.S. have been cleared of infection, a spokesman for the hospital said Wednesday.
"The two team members from Dr. P. Phillips Hospital who were symptomatic have tested NEGATIVE for MERS," the hospital's spokesman Geo Morales said in an email.
"This includes the team member who was hospitalized on Monday, May 12 and the team member who was discharged on Monday, May 12," Morales said.
The spokesman said they are still awaiting test results on the other 18 healthcare workers who also had close contact with the confirmed MERS patient, a 44-year-old male healthcare worker who was visiting from Saudi Arabia.
U.S. health officials said that the Saudi Arabian patient first flew to London and then through Boston and Atlanta, arriving in Orlando on May 1. He reported feeling unwell during the flight and was hospitalized Friday and diagnosed with the MERS virus Sunday night.
The patient remained in isolation Wednesday at the hospital but "has been fever free for 24 hours and clinically is doing well," Morales said.
Florida health officials reassured Wednesday that the MERS virus in the state "is contained and there is no broad threat to the general public."
"The patient is receiving effective and timely care and testing is ongoing to ensure that no additional individuals have the infection," Kevin Sherin, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said.
The first U.S. case of MERS is also a healthcare worker from Saudi Arabia, but unlike the second case, he is an American. He was released from a hospital in Indiana on Friday. The two confirmed MERS cases in the United States are not linked.
So far, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases of MERS infection with at least 170 deaths, and all reported cases have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula.
Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Doctors do not know where the virus comes from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.