Baltimore, MD (February 26, 2011) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is asking anyone working at, or traveling through, Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on the afternoon or evening of Tuesday, February 22, to be aware that they may have been exposed to measles. Possible exposure could have extended from the early afternoon hours until about 9:00 PM that evening.
A traveler confirmed to have measles departed from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport Gate A3 at approximately 7:00 PM on a flight to Denver, Colorado. The same measles-infected traveler potentially exposed people at other airports while contagious, including Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Sunday, February 20.
Measles is a contagious vaccine-preventable viral infection which is easily spread to unvaccinated persons through coughing, sneezing and secretions from the mouth. The measles virus may remain in the air for up to two hours.
Measles symptoms typically develop 10-14 days after exposure to the virus, but can develop as soon as 5 days and as long as 21 days after exposure. Early symptoms of measles are fever more than 101F; runny nose; cough; and red, watery eyes. Usually, one to four days after the early symptoms, a red rash appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. A person with measles is contagious beginning 4 days before the rash appears until4 days after the rash begins. People are considered immune to measles if they were born in the United States before 1957, previously had measles or have had two measles vaccine shots.
People, especially those who are not vaccinated against measles, who were working at or traveling through Concourse A at BWI on the afternoon or evening (up until about 9 pm) should monitor themselves for any early symptoms of measles, especially fever. People who develop a fever or other symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider. Those with symptoms should not go to child care, school, work, or out in public, as they might have the early symptoms of measles and might be contagious. People with these symptoms should call their doctor about their symptoms before showing up in the waiting room so that the office can take measures to prevent spread to other patients.
Those who are most at risk of complications from measles infection are: pregnant women, infants less than 1 year old, and those who are immune compromised. Such persons who might have been exposed at BWI on the afternoon or evening of February 22, 2011 should consult with their healthcare provider to see whether or not treatment with a medicine called Immune Globulin, which can help prevent measles if given within 6 days of exposure, is indicated.
Because most people in the United States have been vaccinated against the virus, measles is now rare in this country. There were 4 confirmed measles cases reported in Maryland in 2009; there have been no confirmed measles cases reported in Maryland since then. For the DHMH Measles Fact Sheet visit: http://edcp.org/pdf_factsheets/Measles.pdf.