When you hear hooves…



Last week, a Air Emirates flight landed in JFK airport in New York City. Ten or more people had been sick with coughing and fever. These patients were taken to the hospital, and CDC monitored other passengers  to ensure no one else was ill.

Immediately news outlets started thinking about Ebola come aware there is a current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, And MERS – The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Corona virus.  Of course, the  duration of course was shorter than the incubation period for these illnesses, but if the passengers had embarked from the same area, (for example the Hajj in Saudi Arabia- where MERS has been a problem before),  the other passengers on the plane could be at significant rest.

As it turns out the patients had more common and less exotic viruses, most notably influenza.  Flu season is starting in the Northern hemisphere and ending in the Southern hemisphere. These patients have been an increased risk of viruses due to travel come about influenza is common and can be deadly.

In medicine there is a pharse: you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras. (Horses being more common than zebras here in the US)  In this case, patients with respiratory illness had influenza and respiratory viruses, which are much much more common than MERS and Ebola, even in travelers.

This is of course a reminder that NOW is a good time to get your influenza shot if you in the northern hemisphere.

WHO September 3 update

CNN Story on Flight Illnesses


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