Seattle, Portland Officials Warn of Potential Measles Exposure
Officials at Portland International Airport announced yesterday that a female passenger in her 20s who had measles flew to the airport on March 26. The woman flew from Amsterdam to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and then to the airport in Portland and may have spread the disease to fellow passengers or others at the airports before returning to Amsterdam via the same route three days later. Officials at the King County Health Department in Seattle are warning people who may have come into contact with the woman to be alert for the symptoms of the measles and to get to a doctor immediately if they appear.
Three King County residents seated near the ill traveler during an Amsterdam to Seattle flight on March 26 are being contacted by Public Health to assess their risk for measles, but the health department says that others who were aboard Northwest Flight 33 (Amsterdam to Seattle) on March 26 and those present in the S concourse, the C concourse (especially gate 2J) or the S concourse train on March 26 between 3:25 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. should also be vigilant.
The Seattle Quarantine Station of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned that on March 26 the unvaccinated passenger flew from Amsterdam to Seattle on Northwest Airlines Flight 33, arriving in Seattle around 3:25 p.m, the department said. The passenger then flew from Seattle to Portland on Horizon Airlines Flight 2243 departing from Seattle at 5 p.m. On March 28 the passenger developed a rash, left Portland for Amsterdam on March 29 aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 92, and in the Netherlands had blood tests that confirmed the diagnosis of measles on April 4.
Measles is a highly infectious 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, 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.
The disease spreads easily among susceptible persons and can result in serious infections complicated by pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures, and death. Most people born before 1957 had the disease in childhood, and younger people are routinely vaccinated against measles, both of which provide protection against the disease. Anyone with possible measles should wear a mask covering the nose and mouth, avoid public places, minimize contact with others, and stay out of patient waiting rooms. More information about the disease is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/default.htm.