(AP) — Workers at a northwest Indiana hospital placed on home isolation
after coming in contact with a man diagnosed with a mysterious virus from
the Middle East have begun returning to work, the hospital's chief medical
information officer said.
The first of the
50 cleared workers began returning to Community Hospital in Munster on
Monday evening, Dr. Alan Kumar said in a telephone interview. The rest
will return on Tuesday.
MERS, or Middle
East Respiratory Syndrome, has an incubation period of two to 14 days and
appears in most cases within five days. The incubation period passed for
35 of the workers on Sunday and for the final 15 on Monday and they all
tested negative for the virus, Kumar said.
"They've all been
tested in the last 24 to 36 hours for their final 14-day incubation
testing," Kumar said.
He said each
employee was monitored daily and none of them showed "classic symptoms" of
the MERS virus such as fever or shortness of breath.
"Some had mild
cough, or congestion and sinus symptoms, which is typical for allergy
season this time of year, but most have been asymptomatic and have no
symptoms whatsoever. All are healthy and in good spirits and looking
forward to coming back," he said.
Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson said the danger for the public
in general who came in contact with the patient also had passed and there
have been no reports of anyone else in Indiana becoming ill. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a second U.S. case of MERS in
Florida, but said it was unrelated to the Indiana case.
The man with the
first U.S. case of MERS was released from the hospital on Friday after
health officials determined he posed "no threat to the community." The
patient tested negative for MERS and was cleared by health officials to
Department of Health announced Friday it had closed the MERS hotline it
opened after the first MERS case was initially reported.