Flyers at Miami International Airport were cautioned over the risk of MERS Wednesday following news of the first confirmed case of the disease in Florida earlier this week.
The gate to each terminal at MIA was decorated with signs warning travelers of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
"It’s a bit frightening, definitely," said Jeff Buchanan, who was flying to New York.
"It’s pretty scary," said Marta Balas who along with her husband and three kids was heading back to Toronto Wednesday.
The new case of MERS was confirmed by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health Monday. The Florida patient is a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia and began feeling sick on a flight to London. The patient then traveled on to Boston and Atlanta before arriving in Orlando on May 1, the CDC said.
The patient, who was visiting family in Orlando, was hospitalized last week and remains isolated in the hospital and still has a fever but is in good spirits, hospital officials said Tuesday.
Two hospital workers were showing symptoms, but they later tested negative for MERS, officials said. The hospital is still awaiting test results on another 18 healthcare workers.
MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and a syndrome known as SARS, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003. Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a Middle East outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The virus has spread among health care workers, most notably at four facilities in that country last spring.
Overall, at least 400 people have had the respiratory illness, and more than 100 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there.
The first MERS case in the U.S. was documented in Indiana
The symptoms of MERS include coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Doctors say it spreads by human-to-human contact.
Joise Newman, a nurse from Phoenix who was traveling through MIA Wednesday, said she’s not scared of the virus.
"Just make sure you're washing your hands and stay away from coughing all over the place," Newman said.
Officials said the risk is relatively low for the Florida case but they are doing everything possible to find people who may have had contact with the patient. They are tracking down the 500 or so passengers who may have been on the three flights in the U.S. out of an abundance of caution.