Illinois health officials warned passengers who were at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Jan. 10 that they may have been exposed to measles.
A passenger with an active case of measles may have exposed others to the highly contagious disease at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, state health officials said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said a passenger on an international flight with a confirmed case of measles arrived in Terminal 5 on Jan. 10 and departed on a domestic flight from Terminal 1, but may also have traveled to other areas of the airport. According to the IDPH, anyone in the airport between 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day may have been exposed.
The warning followed a similar notice issued recently by health officials in New Jersey after a passenger who traveled through Newark Liberty International Airport earlier this month was diagnosed with measles.
Measles can cause serious complications and is among the most contagious infectious diseases, capable of infecting approximately 90% of susceptible people who come in close contact with the virus, according to the CDC. Spread through the air or by direct contact with infectious droplets, it can remain in the air for up to 2 hours after a patient has left.
According to the CDC, receiving two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is around 97% effective at preventing infection. The IDPH urged people who may have been exposed at O’Hare to contact a health care provider. It said local health departments were working to notify Illinois residents who were potentially exposed on the infected passenger’s flights.
According to a recent study, fewer than half of U.S. travelers eligible for the MMR vaccine are immunized before leaving the country.
“We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up to date on [the] MMR vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations,” IDPH chief medical officer Jennifer Layden, MD, said in a statement. “Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or can’t receive it for medical reasons.” – Gerard Gallagher
Hyle EP, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2017;doi:10.7326/M16-2249.
Disclosure: Layden reports no relevant financial disclosures.