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D.C. Health Department issues measles alert

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 28, 2011; 9:41 PM

A woman infected with measles, a contagious and potentially dangerous disease, traveled through the District and Maryland after flying into Dulles International Airport, it was disclosed Monday.

The 27-year-old New Mexico resident landed at the airport Feb. 20 and left the region Feb. 22, from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. In between, D.C. Health Department officials said Monday, she spent time in the District, apparently in Georgetown and Columbia Heights.

The city Health Department said people exposed to measles should determine whether they have received two doses of measles vaccine. Those who have not or who show symptoms should contact their health-care providers, the department said.

People with measles should stay home for four days after the characteristic rash appears, the health department said. Other symptoms include fever, redness of the eye and a cough.

The department said that on Feb. 21, between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the woman apparently went from Georgetown to Columbia Heights, using buses on the D1 or D6 route for part of the trip. She apparently returned between 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on an S2 or S4 bus, the health department said.

In Columbia Heights, the department said, she might have been at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop in the 1400 block of Irving Street NW.

Dr. Maggi Gallaher, medical director of the public health division of the New Mexico Health Department, said the woman apparently was exposed to measles while in Europe. She flew from BWI to Denver, and then to Albuquerque, Gallaher said.

She was hospitalized for a few days in New Mexico but is recovering at home, Gallaher said.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said alerts sent out "a couple of dozen" times a year call attention to possible exposure to travelers with measles.

It is "a testament to the importance of making sure we're all vaccinated," he said.

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