Public health officials are warning travelers and workers present at four U.S. airports on two recent days that they may have been exposed to measles from a traveler arriving from London.
Authorities said Saturday that a New Mexico woman later confirmed to have measles arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport late in the afternoon of Feb. 20. Two days later, the measles-infected traveler departed from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport near Baltimore on an evening flight to Denver, Colo., and then on to Albuquerque, N.M.
On Feb. 21, the woman also used public transportation in D.C. and ate at a Potbelly's. She took the D1 or D6 bus from Georgetown to Columbia Heights (possible exposure time 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.), the S2 or S4 from Columbia Heights to Georgetown (possible exposure time 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and ate at the Potbelly's at 1400 Irving Street NW (possible exposure time 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Although most Americans have been vaccinated for measles or are immune because they've had the disease, public health officials are concerned about those not immunized, including babies. Pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are also more at risk. Authorities said people who were at the airports at the same time as the infected traveler and develop a fever or other symptoms should contact their doctors.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus, according to the CDC's web site. It typically produces fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes and a body rash. The virus, which is spread by sneezing and coughing, can stay in the air for two hours.
Infection can lead to an ear infection or pneumonia in children, and in rare cases, death. Children in the U.S. generally are vaccinated starting at one year of age, and it is recommended earlier if they're being taken abroad.
People who are considered immune include those born in the United States before 1957, those who previously had measles, or people who have received two measles vaccine shots.