The potential exposures occurred on Jan. 3 and 4, said the Virginia Department of Health
Virginia health officials are warning people who were recently either at Dulles International Airport or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport that they may have been exposed to measles.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) said in a news release Saturday it was notified about a confirmed case of measles linked to a person who was traveling through Northern Virginia after returning from overseas.
The department indicated the locations, times and dates that the possible measles exposures occurred at the two airports. Passengers who traveled through Dulles International Airport (IAD) at the international arrivals area of the main terminal between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Jan. 3, and passengers at who traveled via the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) at Terminal A between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. local time on Thursday, Jan. 4 may have been exposed.
“Health officials are coordinating an effort to identify people who might have been exposed, including contacting potentially exposed passengers on specific flights,” the VDH said in its press statement.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Early symptoms include a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Later, a rash of tiny, red spots develops first at the head and then spreads to the rest of the body.
The agency said that the virus can stay in the air for as long as two hours after after the presence of an infected person. Symptoms appear 7-14 days following contact with the virus, and the rash appears 3-5 days after the first symptoms.
The VDH warned that people who never received a measles vaccine and infants too young to receive the vaccination may be at risk for developing the illness.
“Anyone who was exposed and is at risk of developing measles should watch for symptoms until January 25, 2024,” the department said. “If you notice the symptoms of measles, immediately isolate yourself by staying home and away from others. Contact your healthcare provider right away. Call ahead before going to your healthcare provider’s office or the emergency room to notify them that you may have been exposed to measles and ask them to call the health department.”
The department added that if a person received two doses of the measles vaccine or was born before 1957, they are protected and don’t need to take further action. The CDC said that two doses of the vaccine are 97% effective for measles prevention.
Virginia residents with questions about being possibly exposed to measles can call the VDH at 804-864-8140.
Meanwhile, Camden County, New Jersey, is dealing with a confirmed case of measles, CBS affiliate KYW reported. According to health officials, a Camden County resident who was exposed to measles visited Cooper University Healthcare Pediatrics on Jan. 5 and Jefferson South Jersey Stratford Hospital on Jan. 8.
“We are working with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) to investigate this situation,” Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako said in a press release Friday. “Given the serious consequences of measles and the ease with which it can be spread, we will be engaged in a large investigative effort centered on locating and ensuring the immune status of those individuals who may have been in contact with this patient. In the meantime, we urge all residents to be vigilant of symptoms and to make sure they are up to date on their MMR vaccine because that is the best way we can protect ourselves and others from this disease.”
Additionally, the Philadelphia area is experiencing its own measles outbreak after at least eight people were recently confirmed to have been diagnosed with the virus. The City of Philadelphia said in a Jan. 4 press release that it “is working to identify everyone who may have been exposed, checking their vaccine status, warning them that they may have been exposed, and issuing quarantine and exclusion recommendations where necessary.”
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