Travelers in 22 international airports across the United States — including Boston’s Logan International Airport — will now see warning materials posted about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
MERS is a viral respiratory illness that can be deadly. A man who flew through Logan earlier this month was diagnosed with the second U.S. case, reports The Boston Globe. There have been more than 500 confirmed cases worldwide since MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Both U.S. cases involve travelers who came to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia, but the cases are not linked, reports the CDC.
“We wanted to reach the majority of travelers going to and coming back from Arabian Peninsula,” said Christine Pearson from the CDC. “The signs will display information so passengers can protect themselves while they’re traveling and know what to look out for when they get back.”
The health advisory asks people who travel to the Arabian Peninsula (including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) to wash their hands often, avoid touching their face, and avoid close contact with sick people. The materials also educate travelers about the stymptoms of MERS, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
“If you get sick within 14 days of being in the Arabian Peninsula, call a doctor and tell the doctor where you traveled,” says the advisory.
The traveler involved in the first U.S. case reported earlier this month was treated, released from the hospital, and is considered fully recovered, according to the CDC. The second traveler, the man who traveled through Logan, is currently hospitalized and doing well. Health officials are contacting at least 80 Massachusetts residents who were on the same flights as that man, reports the Globe.
MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. There have been more than 500 confirmed cases across 18 countries and 145 people have died of MERS, according to the CDC. Of those, 450 cases and 118 deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia.
The CDC is monitoring the situation and at this point does not recommend people change their travel plans, writing on its website,
“These two cases of MERS imported to the U.S. represent a very low risk to the general public in this country.”