The disease known as MERS may be spreading from Florida to other parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 100 people at two Florida hospitals may have been exposed to the respiratory infection that's already killed an estimated 145 people worldwide.
Doctors say two Orlando health care workers who were exposed to a patient with MERS have tested negative for the virus. The hospital is still waiting for test results for 18 other employees who may have been exposed to the Middle East respiratory syndrome and they were sent home as a precaution.
"It has a very high mortality rate. About a third of the people who have acquired this infection died of it," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt Medical Center.
The virus causes coughing, fever and sometimes pneumonia which can be deadly. More than 500 people in the Middle East have been infected this year. The majority of cases are in Saudi Arabia.
The infected person came to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia May 1. The passenger took four flights from Jeddah to London, then to Boston, Atlanta and finally Orlando. While flying, the traveler developed flu-like symptoms and was admitted into the hospital in Florida a week later.
The CDC has started posting warnings at major airports explaining the risk to travelers.
"The CDC is taking the situation very seriously and working in close coordination with local authorities," said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.
The World Health Organization is keeping an eye on MERS and says despite a recent spike in cases, it's not yet a global health emergency.
Last week a patient in Indiana was hospitalized with MERS, but has since been released. Currently there is no cure or vaccine for the virus.
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