Health officials investigating possible measles exposure in Northern Virginia

Virginia health officials are investigating potential measles exposures that happened earlier this month.

People who were at various Northern Virginia locations during the following specified time frame may have been exposed to one to three people who have been diagnosed with measles.

The individuals recently traveled from Afghanistan as part of the U.S.’ emergency evacuation efforts. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said four Afghans who had arrived tested positive for the measles.

Dulles International Airport

  • Sept. 3-4 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight and from 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the International Arrivals Building/U.S. Customs Hall and the Main Terminal Ticketing Level.
  • Sept. 8 from 4:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the International Arrivals Building/U.S. Customs Hall and the Main Terminal Ticketing Level.

StoneSprings Hospital Center’s Emergency Department, including waiting area

  • Sept. 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Inova L.J. Murphy Children’s Hospital, Floors 1-9

  • from 3 p.m. Sept. 7 to Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Dulles Expo Center

  • Sept. 4 to Sept. 8

Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport

  • Sept. 4 to Sept. 9

Health officials are coordinating efforts to reach people who may have been exposed, and they believe that outside of the locations listed about, the risk to the community is low, a news release Friday from the Northern Region of the Virginia Department of Health said.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected individual.

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.

If you were at one of the locations above during the specified time frame and have received two doses of the measles vaccine, then you do not need to take any action.

If you have only had one dose, the health department said you are “very likely protected” and your risk from the exposure is very low. Nevertheless, contact your health care provider about getting a second dose to achieve complete immunity.

If you have not been vaccinated at all for the measles or have not had a documented case of the measles, you may be at risk from the exposure. Call your health care provider for advice. If you are exhibiting symptoms, stay home and call your doctor for further care. Call ahead before going to your doctor or the hospital and tell them you were exposed to measles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.

Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got the measles each year in the U.S. Since then, widespread use of the measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era, the CDC said.

Measles is very common in many parts of the world, including popular tourist destinations.

Contact your Virginia health district if you have more questions. Those in Fairfax County can call the health district at 703-246-2411. The Loudoun County health district may be reached at Health@loudoun.gov.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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