Second U.S. case of MERS triggers widespread airport alert

May 15, 2014

A second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been documented in Florida, prompting the CDC to issue a health advisory at 22 airports. As with the first case in Indiana, the patient is a health care worker who has recently returned from Saudi Arabia.

The CDC’s alert emphasizes that all travelers make sure to wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. Anyone who experiences symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and fever within two weeks of visiting the Arabian Peninsula is being encouraged to contact a doctor regarding his/her trip. As an additional measure, the CDC has requested that airline employees report any passengers with fevers in excess of 100 degrees or who exhibit respiratory symptoms.

A CDC health alert in airports is a somewhat rare occurrence, with recent examples limited to the December 2013 chikungunya virus outbreak in the Carribean and the April 2009 H1N1 outbreak. Still, the CDC maintains that MERS is not currently a health emergency.

The MERS health advisory is currently posted at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark, Los Angeles, O’Hare, Dulles, Houston, Dallas / Ft. Worth, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Miami, Denver, Boston, Orlando, Detroit, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Baltimore, and Las Vegas airports.

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