MERS Death Toll Rises to 163

Saudi Arabia reports three additional fatalities from deadly Middle East respiratory virus.

AP

Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry reported three more fatalities as a result of the MERS virus, putting the death toll at 163, AFP reported.

MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.

The three latest victims, all women, died Friday, one in Riyadh, one in Taif and one in Jeddah. The Health Ministry also reported that 520 cases have been recorded since the virus first appeared in 2012.

Other countries with recorded cases of the virus include Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and the U.S., where two people have tested positive thus far.

Two Florida hospital employees tested negative on Wednesday, after coming into contact with a Saudi resident infected with the second confirmed MERS case in the U.S., a spokeswoman for the hospital said.