Virginia warns of potential measles exposure at DC airports

Virginia warns of potential measles exposure at DC airports

Virginia is warning travelers that they may have been exposed to measles earlier this month at the two airports in the Washington, D.C., area.

The Virginia Public Health Department said it was notified of confirmed cases of measles at Dulles International Airport on Jan. 3 and Ronald Reagan National Airport on Jan. 4.

The department issued a warning to travelers who were near the international arrivals area of the main terminal at Dulles airport between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and to those in Terminal A of the Ronald Reagan airport between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., on the respective days.

Health officials are especially urging those who are not fully vaccinated against measles to monitor for symptoms — which typically emerge seven to 14 days after the initial exposure.

The health department also noted that there are two stages of measles symptoms.

The first stage may include a fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, runny nose, red watery eyes or sneezing. The second stage — which occurs three to five days after the initial symptoms begin — may include a rash that spreads from the face to other parts of the body, according to officials.

People are contagious four days before the rash begins and four days from the day it appeared, they noted.

The department urged those who may be at risk of developing measles, or who may have been exposed, to isolate themselves and notify their health care provider if they begin to notice symptoms.

Infants under the age of 1 may be more at risk for measles if exposed, since they are too young to have received the vaccine, the officials said.

“Measles is preventable through a safe and effective MMR vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine are given to provide lifetime protection,” the department wrote. “Virginia has high measles vaccination rates, with approximately 95% of kindergarteners fully vaccinated against measles.”

“However, infants younger than 12 months of age are too young to be vaccinated,” they cautioned. “These infants, and others who are not vaccinated, are very susceptible to infection if they are exposed to someone with measles.”

The D.C. Health department also issued a similar warning to its residents.

“DC Health has been notified of a confirmed case of measles in a person who traveled through DC area airports when returning from international travel,” they wrote. “While the threat of transmission is low, DC Health is notifying District residents who were at these locations about their possible exposure.”

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