DULLES, VA — Northern Virginia health officials are warning residents and travelers that they may have been exposed to measles this week at Dulles International Airport and two hospitals. Authorities are working to identify people who may have exposed to the highly contagious virus.
The number of measles cases reported nationwide in 2019 is the highest in more than 20 years, and the most since federal health officials declared the highly contagious disease eliminated in the United States in 2000. A new report shows 25 U.S. counties are at risk for a major outbreak, including Loudoun County. As of May 31, the Centers for Disease Control says 981 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 26 states. This is an increase of 41 cases from the previous week.
Anyone who suspects they have been exposed to measles should call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department. Special arrangements can be made to ensure other patients and medical staff are protected from possible infection.
These are the dates, times, and locations of the potential exposure sites associated with the confirmed case of measles in Northern Virginia:
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Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected individual, according to the Virginia Department of Health. In the first stage of the disease, 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.
Based on the date of exposure, state health official say that if you were infected with measles, you may develop symptoms as late as June 25.
What should you do if you were at one of the above locations at the time specified?
Measles is easily preventable through a safe and effective MMR vaccine, Virginia authorities say. The best protection against future measles cases is the vaccination of all susceptible persons. Two doses are recommended for most individuals with the first dose given at age 12-15 months and the second prior to kindergarten entry (age 4-6 years).
Measles is common in many parts of the world, including popular tourist destinations. All persons who will be traveling internationally should be evaluated for measles immunity and vaccinated as needed. Infants too young to be vaccinated should consider avoiding travel to areas with measles until they can be vaccinated.
The CDC attributed the outbreaks to unvaccinated international travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring.
Medical researchers saythat reintroduction of the virus through travel to countries experiencing outbreaks and low vaccination rates fueled by non-medical exemptions are the two most salient factors for the 2019 outbreak.
Residents with additional questions about this measles investigation can call 571-233-7314. For more information on measles, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/measles-rubeola/.
SEE ALSO: U.S. Measles Outbreak: Here’s Who Needs A Vaccine