Officials at Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) and Orlando International Airport are on stand-by after two cases of coronavirus were confirmed Friday in the United States.
Across the world, the death toll is now 41 in China with hundreds more sickened. Authorities believe the virus came from an infected animal at a Wuhan market in China.
The virus, which has flu-like symptoms according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has major airports like JFK, LAX and San Francisco screening passengers.
“Any close space, there’s a better chance for a viral infection to spread,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, the chief of pediatric infectious disease and immunology for Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
The CDC says airport screenings may expand to more airports. However, JIA and Orlando are not included in that group. Both airports say they are waiting for more information from the CDC and state department of health.
Rathore said he's concerned about the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.
While much is unknown about the disease, Rathore says officials are working to learn more.
“From the birds to humans, but now we know it can spread from human to human,” Rathore said.
Symptoms can be similar to a cold, such as a runny nose or sore throat, but severe cases have caused pneumonia or death.
When traveling, Rathore says practicing good hygiene such as washing hands and covering coughs will help whether it's preventing the spread of the new coronavirus or any others.
“It’s a legitimate concern that yes there’s a potential of infection, taking a flight if you will, it will get to the US faster,” he said.
In the meantime, CDC officials are asking the TSA to post health alerts about the virus at 14 airports, the closest one being Atlanta:
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- New York (JFK)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Newark (EWR)
- Boston (BOS)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Washington D.C. (IAD)
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Honolulu (HNL)
- Houston (IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
CDC officials said, as of Friday, the risk to the U.S. public remains low. For those two U.S. cases, symptoms started appearing several days after they returned home.
The CDC is also recommending travelers avoid going to the Chinese city of Wuhan.