Measles Exposure Reported at Chicago Midway Airport

Mar 1, 2019

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If you were traveling through Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) last Friday, Feb. 22, you might have been exposed to the measles. According to CNN, an infected passenger was on a flight that arrived at Concourse B that evening. The health department has warned that people traveling through the airport between 9pm and midnight might have been exposed.

It’s the latest in a rash of measles cases, which have also popped up at Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon and at New Jersey’s Newark Airport (EWR) recently. Though the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is 97% effective, the virus is extremely contagious and can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and death. According to the CDC, the virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. The CDC also says, “Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”

It can take seven to 14 days for symptoms — which include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes — to appear. Tiny white spots known as Koplik spots may appear inside the mouth. The telltale sign of the measles is a rash of red, blotchy spots that blend together and spread from the face down to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet.

If you think you’ve been exposed to the measles and are experiencing these symptoms, call a medical professional before showing up at the doctor’s office or hospital, so they can prepare and make sure other patients and health care professionals won’t be exposed.

Take precautions if you’re traveling to developing countries, especially with children in tow, and make sure you and your kids have been vaccinated. UNICEF warned that “global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels, led by ten countries accounting for more than 74 per cent of the total increase, and several others that had previously been declared measles free.”

Ukraine saw the highest increase in measles cases between 2017 and 2018, followed by the Philippines, Brazil, Yemen, Venezuela, Serbia, Madagascar, Sudan, Thailand and France. If you’ve got a trip planned to any of these countries and are not sure if you’ve had the MMR vaccine, the CDC has a few tips for locating your vaccination records.

Featured photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images.

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