Are you safe from measles at the airport? If your unvaccinated, maybe not. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Months after an outbreak of measles started at California amusement parks, the state passed a tough vaccination law this week barring religious and other personal-belief vaccine exemptions for schoolchildren.
The law has caused much controversy among the anti-vaccinators. But now, with the ink barely dry on the controversial measure, it has been revealed there’s even more evidence how easily measles can be easily transmitted, even in open spaces.
A report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a case of measles was transferred from a toddler to an adult at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. According to the report, last year, the 19-month-old (who actually had received one of two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine), most likely transmitted the disease when the baby and the 46-year-old man (whose vaccination status is unknown) were in the same boarding area.
“Although transmission could have occurred anywhere in the airport where the child and the adult shared airspace, it most likely occurred in the gate area during the 46-minute interval between the arrival of the adult’s flight and the scheduled departure of the child’s flight,” explains the report. “The airline confirmed that domestic flights board 30-45 minutes before departure, and families with children typically board first. The child’s family likely would have been preparing to board near the front of the gate area when the arriving adult exited his aircraft and passed through the area.”
The baby first showed signs of a rash during a flight from India to the U.S., but still continued on with a connection from Chicago to Minneapolis. The report says the CDC is not aware of any other incidents of transmission to passengers from either flight.
According to the report, the incident underscores the importance of CDC’s recommendation that travelers aged 12 months or younger receive two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine separated by at least 28 days, with the first dose administered before the age of 12 months.
“Airport settings facilitate the mixing of persons from countries where measles is endemic around the world,” advises the CDC report. “The infectiousness of measles is evident when considering that transmission in this case occurred at a domestic terminal during a short period with brief contact.”
The report explains that even vaccinated persons can acquire measles for various reasons, “including primary or secondary vaccine failure or improper vaccine storage, handling, or administration,” but points out that measles transmission from a vaccinated person is rare.
It’s not the first time transmission of the measles has happened at a U.S. airport. According to the CDC, four unvaccinated people linked to the same terminal gate during a four-hour period on January 17, 2014 all came down with the measles.