Health warnings for travelers alerting them to the potentially deadly disease MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, are being posted at airport security checkpoints in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego and 16 other airports nationwide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports two confirmed cases of MERS in the U.S., one in Indiana on May 2 and another in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday. The two cases are unrelated, the CDC says in a statement, though all cases of the virus have been traced back to the Middle East.
The risk of getting MERS is low, and the CDC is not advising travelers to change their plans. Newly installed airport signs warn those heading to the Arabian Peninsula to do what you would do to prevent any type of virus: “Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, avoid close contact with sick people.”
The airport signs also advise travelers to look for telltale signs of the disease, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and to see a doctor if they get sick within 14 days of traveling to the area.
In terms of which countries pose a risk, there have been confirmed cases in Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Yemen. The agency also recommends precautions for those visiting neighboring nations such as Israel, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The warnings will be posted at all New York area airports as well as Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Dallas-Fort Worth; Atlanta; San Francisco; Seattle; Miami; Orlando, Fla.; Denver; Boston; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Detroit; Philadelphia; Charlotte, N.C.; and Baltimore.
The MERS virus was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. So far, the CDC reports, there have been 538 confirmed cases in 14 countries. Experts aren’t sure how the virus spreads, and there’s no vaccine or treatment.
Check out more CDC information about MERS.