Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

Officials warn of possible measles exposure at Dulles, Reagan airports

Virginia health officials said Saturday that a person passing through D.C.-area airports in early January after returning from international travel has come down with measles, warning that others may have been exposed to the disease.

The Virginia Department of Health urged unvaccinated travelers who were at Dulles International Airport from 4 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 3 to be on the lookout for signs of measles. Health officials also issued a warning for people who were at Reagan National Airport between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 4.

Officials said they were working to contact those who were near the person in the terminals and on flights.

Health officials said measles symptoms usually appear in two stages. First, between seven and 14 days after exposure, people can get a fever of 101 degrees or higher. People also get a runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough, experts said. After symptoms begin, a rash appears on a person’s face and spreads to the rest of their body.

Measles can spread easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes, officials said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “If one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to [that person] will also become infected if they are not protected.” As of Jan. 4, a total of 48 measles cases were reported by 20 jurisdictions in the United States, according to the CDC.

Two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine are roughly 97 percent effective at preventing measles, the CDC said. The Virginia Department of Health said about 95 percent of kindergartners in the state have been vaccinated. But infants under 12 months old are too young to get vaccinated, officials warned.

The department asks unvaccinated people to watch for symptoms until Jan. 25, and people who notice signs of measles should isolate and immediately call a doctor.

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