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Dulles Airport traveler may have brought measles to N. Va., health officials warn

Sign welcomes arriving travelers to Dulles International Airport (file photo)

Health officials are cautioning the public about a possible measles exposure in Northern Virginia.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, someone who traveled through Northern Virginia from abroad was confirmed to have measles.

“Out of an abundance of caution, VDH is informing people who were at various locations, including Dulles International Airport on January 3, 2024, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on January 4, 2024, that they may have been exposed,” the department said in a news release on Saturday (Jan. 13).

The health department will identify people who may have been exposed — including by contacting potentially exposed passengers on specific flights.

The exposure window at Dulles Airport was in the international arrivals area of the main terminal between 4 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3, and at National Airport in terminal A between 2:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 4.

Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with droplets from the noise, mouth and throat of an infected individual.

VDH says anyone who has two doses of a vaccine against measles is protected. Those who have one dose of the vaccine are likely protected, but the department suggests contacting a health care provider to schedule a second dose to ensure full protection.

Anyone who is not vaccinated against measles or has contracted the disease should contact the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-2411 or a health care provider.

In the first stage of the illness, people have a fever of more than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day with the appearance of a rash on the face that could spread over the entire body.

Here’s more from VDH on what to do if you may have been impacted by an exposure:

If you have never received a measles containing vaccine (either the measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] vaccine or a measles only vaccine which is available in other countries), you may be at risk of developing measles. Anyone who was exposed and is at risk of developing measles should watch for symptoms until January 25, 2024. 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. This will help protect other patients and staff.

If you have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine, or were born before 1957, you are protected and do not need to take any action.

If you have an immuno-compromising condition, please consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions or develop symptoms.

If you have received only one dose of a measles containing vaccine, you are very likely to be protected and your risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures is very low. However, to achieve complete immunity, contact your healthcare provider about getting a second vaccine dose.

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