Miami International Airport and 21 other US Airports Alert Travelers about MERS Infection
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Miami International Airport and 21 other US Airports Alert Travelers about MERS Infection

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Travellers from Sint Maarten heading to the United States of America will be alerted once they arrive at one of 22 airports – Miami International Airport included – a warning sign about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.  Viruses in this family also cause a number of animal diseases.  The strain of MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.  Medical understanding of the virus and the disease it causes is continuing to evolve.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put 22 airports on alert around the country for the illness.

The United States of America is the first country in the Western Hemisphere to have MERS cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now added the United States to a list of 13 affected countries reporting cases of MERS or evidence of infection since December 2013.  The countries are: Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations (2005) was held via teleconference on 13 May.  The Members of the Committee indicated that the seriousness of the situation had increased in terms of public health impact, but that there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

As a result, the Committee concluded that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern have not yet been met, and added that its concern about the situation had significantly increased.

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