10/25/2014

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Child with measles traveling through Sea-Tac may have exposed others

SEATTLE -- A child with a confirmed case of measles traveling through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport July 4 may have been contagious and exposed others to the disease, public health officials said.

The child was traveling from Beijing to Seattle and was in the process of being adopted, James Apa of King County Public Health said.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease caused by the measles virus. It is mainly spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

Most people in the Seattle area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, so the risk to the general public is low, officials said.

However, people who were at Sea-Tac Airport around the same time as the contagious traveler--between noon and 4 p.m. on July 4--should be aware of their immunity status, monitor themselves for symptoms, and call a health care provider promptly if they develop an illness with fever or an unexplained rash illness sometime between July 11 and July 25, 2013, officals said.

People at highest risk from exposure to measles include those who are unvaccinated, pregnant women, infants under six months of age and those with weakened immune systems.

The person was in present in the following areas:
• South Satellite International Terminal Arrival Area
• Immigration and primary screening
• Adoption processing
• Restrooms in the South Satellite
• Baggage Claim/Customs
• Train to main terminal
• Main terminal baggage claim
• Elevator in Main Terminal to Level 2 parking garage.

After arriving in Seattle, the traveler received medical attention and was diagnosed on July 4 and determined to be infectious beginning on July 4.

Health authorities in Washington state and at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were notified. The CDC is following up to notify those on the same flights as the contagious traveler.

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious and usually severe illness that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. The rash begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Fever--often greater than 101 degrees-- cough and other symptoms begin two to four days before the rash appears.

Symptoms begin seven to 21 days after the exposure to measles occurred. Measles is contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.

For more information about measles, a fact sheet is available in multiple languages here.
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