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Mystery Illness Sickens 100 on Flight from Dubai

Emirates airplane

Update, Sept. 7, 2018 -- After examining health evaluations for all 549 passengers and crew members on the flight, the CDC says 11 people were taken to local hospitals for care, and the other passengers were released. Preliminary tests show that some patients tested positive for the flu or other common respiratory viruses. "Patients are being treated by the hospital, including receiving antivirals," the CDC says.

Original post: Sept. 5, 2018 -- A plane arriving in New York City from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was briefly quarantined at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday morning after about 100 passengers and crew members reported falling ill while on board, according to the CDC.

The sick passengers had symptoms that included cough and fever.

“CDC public health officers are working with Port Authority, EMS, and Customs and Border Patrol officials to evaluate passengers, including taking temperatures and making arrangements for transport to local hospitals for those who need care,” the CDC says in a written statement on the response.

The CDC also says all passengers without a fever would be allowed to continue with their travel plans, and if needed, their conditions will be followed up by health officials.

“We will have more information as passengers and crew members are evaluated,” the CDC says.

Emirates airlines, the operator of the flight, initially said in a tweet that about 10 passengers had fallen ill.

The CDC said that about 100 had complained of some sort of illness: some with milder symptoms, some who needed to be hospitalized.

Flight 203 was on an Airbus double-decker aircraft, a super jumbo jet, and was carrying 521 passengers, according to the CDC.

Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the airport, says in a written statement that the plane was taken away from the main terminal as soon as it landed so medical personnel could board it, find out more about the situation, and help the passengers and crew right away.

WebMD Article Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 05, 2018
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