International airports taking precautions after MERS outbreak

500 cases of MERS worldwide

MIAMI - The spread of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory syndrome  has become more serious and urgent at 22 international airports, including Miami International Airport.

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport is not one of the airports targeted by the Centers for Disease Control, because it does not have any direct international flights to the Arabian peninsula. Miami International does.

There have been 500 cases of MERS worldwide, in 17 different countries, resulting in 145 deaths. Two cases have been in the United States. However, the two American health care workers that were in Saudi Arabia and came to the U.S. are being treated for the Coronavirus.

The most recent Florida case was a 44-year-old man who entered the U.S. through Boston, then flew to Atlanta, and then finally to Orlando.

That has prompted the CDC to post health warnings at international security check points at airports. At MIA you will find the small signs outside security check points in terminal E and D.

There is no known vaccine or special treatment for MERS, but the CDC says out of an abundance of caution it has taken action to inform travelers of the symptoms, and that the risk to the general public remains very low.

"The individuals in the hospitals that took care of those two patients did not get infected, so it is probably already contained," said Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, the Broward Sheiff Medical Director. "It is very low risk and there have only been two cases in the United States. Of course, we are on the look out. We are vigilant and we are always going to pay attention to people that come in with a symptom complex."

Many travelers, however, are still concerned.

"I am concerned because I know you can pick that up in hospitals," said Darren McMannis. "Hospitals don't like to advertise it, but I am concerned. It is highly contagious being on a small plane or even a large aircraft."


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