Passengers traveling through Los Angeles International Airport and Denver International Airport last week may have been exposed to measles, according to reports.
In Los Angeles, the possible exposure comes after an infected passenger traveled through the hub on Dec. 11, according to an advisory from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Passengers who traveled through Terminals 4 and 5 between 6:50 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. that day are at risk of being infected.
In Denver, three children were hospitalized after they visited another country with an “ongoing measles outbreak,” according to The Denver Post. The children, who were all related, had not received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Passengers who traveled through the Denver International Airport on Dec. 11 between 1:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. are being warned they could be at risk, according to the outlet.
"For those who are not protected, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that initially causes fever, cough, red, watery eyes, and, finally, a rash," Dr. Muntu Davis, a Los Angeles County health officer said in the Los Angeles advisory. “Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it. The MMR immunization is a very effective measure to protect yourself and to prevent the unintentional spread of this potentially serious infection to others."
The measles virus can live for up to two hours in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An infected person can spread the virus starting four days before a rash appears and up to four days after.
The Los Angeles advisory noted that anyone at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after being exposed. Those who may have been exposed are encouraged to review their medical records to see if they're protected against measles, contact their health provider especially if they are pregnant, an infant, have a weakened immune system or are unimmunized and stay at home if symptoms develop.
As of 2017, 92.7 percent of children aged 19 to 35 months received the MMR vaccine, according to the CDC. Two doses of the vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles.
But this year, the U.S. is seeing what the CDC has called “the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.” And there have been several instances this year of people being exposed to the virus in airports.