WASHINGTON (WMAL) – An unvaccinated person who contracted the measles overseas flew into Dulles Airport Sunday. Now the Virginia Department of Health is warning people who may have been exposed.
The person flew into Dulles Airport Sunday, June 2 and was in Terminal A and the baggage claim. Anyone in those areas between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. may have been exposed to the highly contagious airborne disease. Later that night, the infected person went to the Novant UVA Health System’s Haymarket Medical Center. Anyone there between 11 p.m. Sunday through Monday at 4:30 a.m. may have been exposed. The person was also at the Inova Fair Oaks Hospital’s ER Tuesday. Anyone there between 3 and 5:30 p.m. may have been exposed.
Dr. Alison Ansher with the Prince William County Department of Health said people can get measles two hours after someone with it leaves an area. That is factored into the above times.
Measles is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected person according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Anyone in those areas at those times who has had the two doses of the measles vaccine is protected and need not worry. People who have had only one of the two doses are likely protected, according to Ansher, but they should receive the second dose of the vaccine.
People who aren’t sure if they were vaccinated should check their medical records. There is also a blood test that can show whether someone has been vaccinated.
Ansher said people who haven’t been vaccinated and were in those areas at those times should contact their local departments of health, even if they aren’t showing symptoms.
“The local health department would go through a list of questions and determine the best course of action,” Ansher said.
Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body. Anyone exposed by this person could develop symptoms as late as June 25.
Ansher said people who have these symptoms should call the doctor or ER before going to try to avoid exposing other people to it.
“Sometimes a provider, obviously not the emergency room, but sometimes a provider may choose to initially evaluate the individual in their car outside and maybe even take samples,” Ansher said.
If someone with symptoms has to enter a doctor’s office or hospital the person would be given a mask and then isolated in a private room according to Ansher.
Ansher said this case is not related to the outbreaks throughout the country that have sickened 1,001 people as of Wednesday and is the largest number of reported cases of measles in the U.S. in the last three decades.
The best way to prevent measles is the get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, according to Ansher. She added the vaccine is safe.
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