Health officials in the nation’s capital are warning of a possible measles exposure Tuesday after a person with a “confirmed case” traveled through two of the busiest airports in the region while returning home from an international trip.
DC Health says the potential exposure occurred in the international arrivals area of the main terminal at Dulles International Airport between 4 and 8 p.m. on Jan. 3, then at terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport the following day from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
“DC Health has been notified of a confirmed case of measles in a person who traveled through DC area airports when returning from international travel,” the agency said in a statement. “While the threat of transmission is low, DC Health is notifying District residents who were at these locations about their possible exposure.”
The Virginia Department of Health issued a similar warning days earlier.
Hundreds of flights involving thousands of travelers arrive and depart at both airports daily.
“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. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes, and a cough. These symptoms usually start 7 to 14 days after being exposed,” the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement.
“The second stage starts 3 to 5 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 4 days before the rash appears through 4 days after the rash appeared,” it added.
It is unclear on which airline the person with measles was traveling.
Both health agencies say anyone who was exposed and is at risk of developing measles should be on alert for symptoms until Jan. 25.
“If you notice symptoms of measles, immediately isolate yourself by staying home and away from others. Contact your healthcare provider right away,” they both add.
“Call ahead before going to your health care provider’s office or the emergency room to notify them that you may have been exposed to measles and ask them to call the health department. This will help protect other patients and staff.”