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With Ebola In The Headlines, Officials Worry About Other Maladies

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Officials are asking travelers to stay calm after hearing that a second Dallas nurse with Ebola was on a jet liner the day before her diagnosis. While Ebola is making the headlines, it's not the only malady that could arrive by jetliner.

"Domestically, we have the enterovirus 68 . We have dengue fever coming out of the Caribbean," said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Division Chief Tammy Nugent.

First responders at  South Florida airports are also on the lookout for potential cholera cases from Haiti and Cuba. But what about Ebola?

"It's highly unlikely it's ever going to come here," said Nugent.

CLICK HERE To Watch Brian Andrews' Report 

At Miami International Airport (MIA), thousands of workers got cards to add to their ID lanyards this week with tips on how to spot a sick passenger.

"We want to make sure that all of our employees at least have a little something in their back pocket or in the badge as maybe that gives them a quick response," said MIA Director Emilio Gonzalez.

Health experts said the risk the sick nurse posed to her fellow passengers while flying Frontier was most likely low because she wasn't symptomatic until the day after.  Ebola is also hard to get since it's not an airborne virus. It's spread by blood and bodily fluids.

According to,  Frontier Airlines is working with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find all passengers on the flight. The airline also said the plane was thoroughly cleaned and taken out of service.

But according to Flighttracker, the plane had five other flights before it was removed from service. One of which was a round trip flight from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

No word yet on whether the CDC is looking for passengers on those flights.

Meantime, health officials are asking passengers to be prepared and not board a plane if they are sick. For those who do end up on a plane, they're asking them to alert flight attendants if they see a sick passenger.

CBS4's Brian Andrews asked if passengers may be overdoing it if they wear face masks.

"Not if you fear getting a contagious disease on an airplane," responded Nugent. "You're in a close, confined area so, it's not overkill. You're just protecting yourself."

Those who run South Florida's major airports know there is a lot of angst with this latest news.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport Operations Manager Michael Nonnamacher is helping passengers coming in to stay calm.

" I tell them to calm down, get educated, understand what the symptoms are and how it's transmitted and don't cancel your travel plans as a result of this," said Nonnamacher. "Keep travelling and keep coming to Fort Lauderdale."

South Florida Nurses Union President Martha Baker said  they are working with management to make sure everything that needs to happen does happen. They also issued a statement, saying, "Our goal is to ensure that all our nurses, doctors and healthcare workers are prepared to confidently and efficiently execute CDC protocols to maximize the health and safety of staff, our patients and the public.  Jackson has a long history of successfully managing public health crises, from AIDS in the 1980s to the flu. All our healthcare professionals use proper infection controls on a daily basis. The Ebola response requires that everyone is armed with the necessary resources -- including training, adequate staffing, and access to proper equipment -- to effectively limit exposure and provide safe, quality care according to CDC guidelines. We are calling on Jackson and other area hospitals to provide additional training and resources as necessary to keep everyone's skills sharp and ready to go, not only for healthcare professionals, but also the support staff responsible for cleaning and disinfecting."




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