FAIRFAX, Va. — Health districts in northern Virginia are warning the public, “out of an abundance of caution” that if they were in various locations this week, they may have been exposed to the highly contagious measles infection.
Three individuals that had recently traveled from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts have been diagnosed with the infection.
The illness is generally spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of an infected individual.
The symptoms usually appear in two stages, the districts specified via press release. “In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body.”
Northern Virginia area health officials are coordinating efforts to reach people who may have been exposed. Listed below are the dates, times, and locations of the potential exposure sites associated with measles.
Outside of the specific locations and times, it is currently believed that the risk to the community is low.
Health officials have given the public the following advisement:
What should you do if you were at one of the above locations at the time specified?
- If you have received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine (either the measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] vaccine or a measles-only vaccine which is available in other countries) you are protected and do not need to take any action.
- If you have received only one dose of a measles-containing vaccine, you are very likely to be protected and your risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures is very low. However, to achieve complete immunity, contact your health care provider about getting a second vaccine dose.
- If you have never received a measles-containing vaccine nor had a documented case of measles, you may be at risk of getting measles from this exposure. Contact your local health department or health care provider for advice. If you notice the symptoms of measles, stay home and away from others and immediately call your primary health care provider or health department to discuss further care. Call ahead before going to the medical office or the emergency room and tell them that you were exposed to measles.
“Please make sure children are up to date on their childhood vaccinations,” officials stated. “Measles is easily preventable through a safe and effective MMR vaccine. The best protection against future measles cases is the vaccination of all susceptible persons. Two doses are recommended for most individuals with the first dose given at age 12-15 months and the second prior to kindergarten entry (age 4-6 years).”