Home Case of measles in Virginia has Department of Health scrambling to find people exposed to illness

Case of measles in Virginia has Department of Health scrambling to find people exposed to illness

Crystal Graham
measles illustration
(© Dr_Microbe – stock.adobe.com)

A confirmed case of measles for a person who traveled through Northern Virginia when returning from international travel has the Virginia Department of Health scrambling to find people who may have been exposed.

VHD reports that it is working to identify people at Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Health officials are coordinating an effort to identify people who might have been exposed including contacting potentially exposed passengers on specific flights.

Potential exposure sites

  • Dulles International Airport: The international arrivals area of the main terminal between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport: Terminal A between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 4

Measles vaccines

  • 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 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.
  • If you were at one of the locations and have never received a measles, mumps or rubella vaccine or a measles only vaccine, you may be at risk of developing measles.
  • Anyone who was potentially exposed should watch for symptoms through Jan. 25.

If you were at one of the two locations above and notice symptoms of measles, you should isolate yourself and stay home. You should also contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider should contact the health department.

Measles is preventable through a safe and effective MMR vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine are given to provide lifetime protection.

Virginia has high measles vaccination rates, with approximately 95 percent of kindergarteners fully vaccinated against measles. However, infants younger than 12 months of age are too young to be vaccinated. These infants, and others who are not vaccinated, are very susceptible to infection if they are exposed to someone with measles. If you or your child have not yet been vaccinated, call your health provider.

Measles symptoms

Measles is a highly contagious illness that can spread easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages.

  • First stage: Most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. These symptoms usually start seven to 14 days after being exposed.
  • Second stage: Starts three to five days after symptoms start, when a rash begins to appear on the face and spread to the rest of the body.

People with measles are contagious from four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appeared.

Residents with additional questions about their potential exposure may call VDH at (804) 864-8140 or email [email protected].

For more information about measles, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/measles/

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.