Health Officials Warn of Possible Measles Exposure Earlier This Month at Dulles and Reagan Airports

Courtesy Google Maps

Per the Virginia Department of Health: “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) was notified of a confirmed case of measles in a person who traveled through Northern Virginia when returning from international travel.

Out of an abundance of caution, VDH is informing people who were at various locations, including Dulles International Airport on January 3, 2024, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on January 4, 2024, that they may have been exposed. Health officials are coordinating an effort to identify people who might have been exposed, including contacting potentially exposed passengers on specific flights.

Listed below are the dates, times, and locations of the potential exposure sites associated with this case of measles:

  • Dulles International Airport (IAD): the international arrivals area of the main terminal between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2024
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA): Terminal A between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 4, 2024

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 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.

What should you do if you were at one of the above locations on the day and time specified?

  •  If you have never received a measles containing vaccine (either the measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] vaccine or a measles only vaccine which is available in other countries), you may be at risk of developing measles. Anyone who was exposed and is at risk of developing measles should watch for symptoms until January 25, 2024. If you notice the symptoms of measles, immediately isolate yourself by staying home and away from others. Contact your healthcare provider right away. Call ahead before going to your healthcare 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.
  • 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 an immunocompromising condition, please consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions or develop symptoms.
  • 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. However, to achieve complete immunity, contact your healthcare provider about getting a second vaccine dose.

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% 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. To check your immunization status, call your healthcare provider or request records from the VDH Immunization Record Request Form. For additional information, contact your local health department.

Healthcare providers should maintain an increased index of suspicion for measles in clinically compatible cases at all times, especially if patients were recently exposed. Measles is an immediately reportable disease. Contact the local health department right away to report any suspected cases and arrange for public health testing. For additional guidance on testing and infection control measures for healthcare providers, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/measles/hcp/.

Residents with additional questions about their potential exposure can call VDH at (804) 864-8140 or email [email protected]. For more information about measles visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/measles/

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