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Orlando Health Employee Hospitalized With MERS Symptoms, Being Tested

Orlando Health Officials
Orlando Health Officials

May 13th, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando- An Orlando health employee who had contact with a Saudi Arabian MERS patient has been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. Hospital officials say two of the team members who treated the MERS patient showed flu-like symptoms yesterday during testing, but only one met the criteria for admission to the hospital.

[Dr. Ken Michaels, Dr. Antonio Crespo, and Dr. Kevin Sherin answer questions during a press conference at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando. Photo: Ernest Duffoo, WMFE] 

The Saudi Arabian man is only the second case of MERS virus- or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome- in the US. He’s in isolation at Dr. P Phillips Hospital in Orlando.

At a press conference at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital on Tuesday morning Dr. Antonio Crespo, the hospital’s chief quality officer said the health team member was admitted to the emergency department and is doing well.

Crespo said samples have been sent to the state lab in Tampa for testing to see if either of the Orlando health employees have MERS.

The 44 year old Saudi Arabian MERS patient, the second case of the illness in the United States, may have contaminated other health employees, said  Dr. Ken Michaels, the medical director for occupational health at Orlando Health.

No other team members have shown symptoms.

According to Michaels, as of Monday, twenty Orlando Health employees may have been exposed to the virus, including: 

  • 13 team members and 2 physicians at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital
  • 4 team members and 1 physician at Orlando Regional Medical Center


“They then were evaluated for any signs or symptoms that were consistent with the MERS virus,” Michaels said.

“A nose and throat swab were collected and they have been sent to the state lab for testing.”

The team members are on paid leave for the duration of the fourteen day MERS incubation period.

They will undergo new swab and blood tests upon their return, said Michaels.

The Saudi Arabian patient is in stable condition and improving.

145 people have died from MERS worldwide since its outbreak in 2012.


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