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Measles Exposure at Seattle Airport

Jun 02, 2014 03:53 PM EDT
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A child with measles was reportedly at the Sea-Tac Airport late last month, potentially exposing hundreds to the highly infectious disease.

Local officials from the Seattle and King Country Department of Public Health have announced that a child suffering from measles was at the Sea-Tac airport on May 26 between 6 p.m. and 10 pm.

According to a public health warning released by the department on Sunday, the child in question was experiencing the contagious stage of a measles infection while in Concourse A and baggage claim that Monday, potentially putting others at risk of contracting the infection.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles is a highly infectious respiratory disease caused by a viral infection that commonly causes cough, severe fever and a body-wide rash. It is most dangerous to children and pregnant women, whose elevated body temperatures can prove fatal if not treated.

The disease can take up to two weeks after initial infection to present itself fully, and it is during this stage that secondary infections - spreading from person to person - can occur. The CDC reports that the disease is so infectious, nine in ten people exposed will become infected themselves.

Thankfully, the disease is nearly 100 percent preventable through vaccination, and following implementation of the Measles-Mumps-Reubella (MMR) vaccine, the disease was eradicated in the United States in 2000.

Still, the United States regularly sees an estimated 60 annual cases of the disease each year, originating from other countries that are not completely immunized.

Due to massive epidemics of the virus in countries like the Philippines, international travel has posed a greater risk of isolated outbreaks in the United States than ever before, with over 288 cases of the disease identified this year.

For those who are unsure of their immunization status, the CDC and Seattle-King Country officials are asking potentially exposed residents to contact their health care professionals immediately.

Anyone infected from the Sea-Tac exposure is likely to start expressing symptoms between June 1 and June 16, and officials are asking local doctors to keep a sharp lookout for potential measles cases.

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