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Sick Passengers on Emirates Flight Test Positive for Flu

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This article was origially published on Sept. 5 and updated on Sept. 6.

Officials have confirmed that 10 passengers on an Emirates airlines flight that arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York City yesterday (Sept. 5) had the flu.

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said on Twitter that 10 sick passengers from the flight, who were hospitalized yesterday, have tested positive for influenza.

Phillips added that the 10 passengers were also tested for other viruses, and some of these tests came back "inconclusive." This is a common finding, but it means that those passengers will need to retake the tests for those viruses, and will be kept in the hospital until those results are known.

The plane, an Emirates airlines Airbus A380, landed yesterday at JFK around 9 a.m. local time, and was met by the New York Port Authority police and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to local news outlet CBS New York.

Emirates said in a statement on Twitter yesterday that "about 10 passengers" on board the flight had fallen ill. As a precaution, health authorities attended to the ill passengers, the statement said.

The 10 sick passengers were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. Health officials checked the rest of the passengers "one by one" for symptoms. Nine other passengers were found to have symptoms, but refused medical attention, Phillips said. A total of 521 passengers were on board the flight. 

Phillips noted that some of the passengers came from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is experiencing a flu outbreak.

A passenger on board the flight, Larry Coben, tweeted yesterday that before getting off the plane, passengers had their temperatures taken and were asked to fill out a "Passenger Locator Information Form" by the CDC. At around 11 a.m. EDT, he tweeted, "Happy to report that I am through customs and on my way home."

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner
Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a masters degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.