UPDATE 1-All workers test negative for MERS at Indiana hospital-official

Mon May 5, 2014 1:21pm EDT

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MUNSTER, Ind. May 5 (Reuters) - All workers at the Indiana hospital where the first U.S. case of the often deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was confirmed last week have tested negative for the virus, officials at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, said on Monday.

"We had about 50 employees who had contact with the patient. Every person who had contact with (him) has been tested, and they all have tested negative," Alan Kumar, Chief Medical Information Officer at Community Hospital told a joint news conference.

Health officials said they will continue to monitor and test people who had close contact with the MERS patient, who fell ill after traveling from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he lives and works, to visit family in the United States.

About three-quarters of the people who came in contact with the patient during his travel have been contacted by the Centers for Disease Control and local health departments, said Daniel Feikin of the CDC.

Meanwhile, the Indiana patient's condition continues to improve. He no longer requires supplemental oxygen and is expected to be released from the hospital soon, Kumar said.

State and federal health officials on Friday confirmed the first U.S. case of MERS, which presents symptoms similar to influenza and kills about a third of those infected. Most MERS fatalities have been among the elderly and the vast majority of cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia.

Eighteen more people in Saudi Arabia have contracted MERS, bringing the number of cases there to 414, its health ministry said on Monday, more than a quarter of whom have died. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Munster, Indiana, and Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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