Tampa hospital ready for MERS, says director - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa hospital ready for MERS, says director

Posted: Updated:
Tampa General Hospital director of infection prevention Peggy Thompson Tampa General Hospital director of infection prevention Peggy Thompson
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

As a MERS case appears just down the road, Tampa General Hospital Director of Infection Prevention Peggy Thompson tells us doctors and nurses at TGH are prepared.

“We mask you, we take you immediately into one of those negative air flow rooms and we would put you in isolation,” said Thompson.

Thompson said doctors who come in contact with anyone who appears to have a respiratory illness, put a mask on the patient. After asking about their travel history, they could be put in isolation.

“Especially with emerging diseases like this where they haven't figured out exactly how easily they're transmitted yet,” said Thompson.

A second case of MERS or Middle East respiratory syndrome was confirmed in Orlando Monday. The 44-year-old man who lives in Saudi Arabia traveled to Orlando to visit family May 1st. The patient traveled through London, Boston and Atlanta before his flight arrived in Orlando. The patient was sick along the flight but was only admitted to Dr. P. Phillips hospital in Orlando this past week.

“The Florida Department of Health was notified on May 9th, we began to respond by sending samples to the Tampa Lab,” said Orange County Health Department Director Dr. Kevin Sherin.

“I'm not very alarmed at all. This is a coronavirus, which is very similar to what we saw with SARS, and it's actually less infectious than what we saw with SARS,” said Dr. Tom Unnasch, a global health expert from the University of South Florida.

“They can only be spread in large droplets so sneezing and coughing in large droplets that don't travel very far, which means you have to have very close contact with the person,” added Unnasch.

The Orlando patient works in healthcare and that is one reason officials at TGH are prepared to come face to face with the illness that there is not a vaccine for.

“Eye protection for this one as well because there is a droplet transmission,” said Thompson.

The CDC confirms 538 cases of MERS have been reported to the World Health Organization, and 145 of these have died.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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