Measles alert for Dulles travelers

June 18, 2013

A person receives the MMR vaccination. (File photo) (Mike Hutmacher/Associated Press)

The Loudoun County Health Department is warning people who were at Dulles International Airport on June 7 that they may have been exposed to measles.

People may be at risk of exposure if they were in Concourse A or B, in the International Arrivals building or in the baggage claim level of the main terminal between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. that day. Loudoun County health officials said the affected individual was traveling abroad when infected, but could offer no additional information.

Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of a person who is already infected. The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after a person with measles has occupied an area.

Symptoms generally occur in two stages. In the initial stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. Around the third to seventh day of the infection, a rash appears on the face and spreads over the entire body. Loudoun County health officials said based on the date of exposure, symptoms may develop as late as June 28.

Individuals who suspect they may be infected should contact their physician, but are urged to call ahead and say they may have been infected with measles prior to going to a doctor’s office or an emergency room for treatment.

A MMR vaccine is available that will prevent measles. Two doses are recommended for most individuals with the first dose given at age 12-15 months and the second prior to kindergarten entry, around ages 4 and 6.

While there are few measles cases reported in the United States, the disease is still common in many parts of the world. Health officials urge individuals to be vaccinated, particularly if they are traveling internationally. More information on measles is available here. 

Such warnings are issued from time to time. In 2011, Maryland health officials issued a similar warning to residents after an individual who was infected attended a Baltimore Orioles baseball game.

For additional questions, please call the Loudoun County Health Department at 571-233-7317.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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Mark Berman · June 18, 2013