The first Florida MERS patient has been released from an Orange County hospital after testing negative for the disease, officials said Monday.
The patient, a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia, has recovered from the virus and was released from Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, the Florida Department of Health and Orlando Health said in a statement.
All health care workers and people who had contact with the patient were also tested and those results have come back negative, officials said. There is no risk of infection and no threat to people traveling to the Orlando area, officials said.
The patient began feeling sick on a flight to London before he then traveled on to Boston and Atlanta before arriving in Orlando on May 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. He had been isolated in the hospital with a fever.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and a syndrome known as SARS, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003. Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a Middle East outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The virus has spread among health care workers, most notably at four facilities in that country last spring.
Overall, at least 400 people have had the respiratory illness, and more than 100 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there.
The first MERS case in the U.S. was documented in Indiana. A third person in Illinois tested positive for the virus after having contact with the Indiana patient.
The symptoms of MERS include coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Doctors say it spreads by human-to-human contact.