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Virginia health officials warn of potential measles exposure

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Virginia public health officials are warning people who were at a pediatrician’s office or hospital in Northern Virginia during specific times recently that they may have been exposed to a child with measles.

The child, who is in stable condition and improving, was unvaccinated and contracted measles during international travel, according to the state health department. Officials declined to say if the child was under 1 year old and too young to be vaccinated or an older minor.

Outside of the following specific locations and times, public health officials say the risk to the community is low:

  • Kaiser Permanente Ashburn Medical Center, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., May 13.
  • Inova Fairfax Hospital — pediatric and adult emergency departments, 5:30 p.m. May 15 to 2 a.m., May 16, and 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., May 16.

No action is needed for people in these areas who have received two doses of a measles vaccine. Exposure risk is low for those with one dose, but they should contact their health-care provider about getting a second dose, according to the health department.

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People who are unvaccinated or had measles previously may be at risk and should call their doctor or local health department if symptoms develop. Call ahead before going to an emergency room.

David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, said that although isolated, the case serves as a reminder to parents to exercise caution when considering bringing their unvaccinated child to a developing country or other location where vaccination rates are low.

“Many infections that we have not seen much of in the United States are very common in other parts of the world, particularly because of our high vaccination rate,” he said.

Although not extremely unusual — northern Virginia sees a case every few years usually because of travel abroad — Goodfriend said, “Measles is really just one flight away from landing at Dulles Airport.”

The health department will remind doctors in Northern Virginia to consider a measles diagnosis when a patient has symptoms — fever, upper respiratory symptoms, a cough and rash — in addition to a history of traveling to a country where these infections are more common.