The Virginia Department of Health is alerting the public to a potential exposure of measles at several locations in Northern Virginia during the past week—including Dulles Airport and Stone Springs Hospital.
Three individuals diagnosed with measles recently arrived in the area from Afghanistan as part of the U.S. government’s emergency evacuation efforts. A press release states that Northern Virginia area health officials are coordinating efforts to reach people who may have come in contact with them.
Exposure may have occurred at the following places at the following times:
- Sept. 3 and 4, Dulles Airport: in the international arrivals/U.S. customs hall from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, and the main terminal ticketing level from 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.;
- Sept. 4 to 8, Dulles Expo Center;
- Sept. 4 to 9, Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport;
- Sept. 6, StoneSprings Hospital: in the emergency department, including waiting area from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
- Sept. 7 and 8, Inova L.J. Murphy Children’s Hospital: floors 1-9, 3 p.m. Sept. 7 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8;
- Sept. 8, Dulles Airport: in the international arrivals/U.S. customs hall from 4:30 to 10:30 a.m., and the main terminal ticketing level from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.;
- Sept. 8, StoneSprings Hospital: in the emergency department, including waiting area from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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. 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. 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.
According to VDH, those who have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine—either the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or a measles only vaccine which is available in other countries—are protected and do not need to take any action.
Individuals who have received only one dose of a measles containing vaccine are very likely to be protected and the risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures is very low. However, to achieve complete immunity, contact your health care provider about getting a second vaccine dose.
Those who have never received a measles containing vaccine nor had a documented case of measles may be at risk of getting measles from this exposure. Contact your local health department or health care provider for advice. If you notice the symptoms of measles, stay home and away from others and immediately call your primary health care provider or health department to discuss further care. Call ahead before going to the medical office or the emergency room and tell them that you were exposed to measles.
VDH is encouraging parents and guardians to make sure children are up to date on their childhood vaccinations. Measles is easily preventable through a safe and effective MMR vaccine. 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 to 15 months and the second prior to kindergarten entry, age 4 to 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 avoid travel to areas with measles until they can be vaccinated.
Residents with additional questions about this measles investigation should contact their local health district. Contact information can be found at vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts. Those in Fairfax may call the health district at 703-246-2411. For Loudoun Health District email Health@loudoun.gov. For more information on measles, go to vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology-fact-sheets/measles-rubeola.