Pennsylvania Health officials have warned the US travelers about possible measles exposure at Philadelphia Airport. They said that earlier this month, a person with the measles virus spent two days at this airport. So, the people who flew to or from Philadelphia International Airport at that time (October 2 and 3) may have a measles exposure.
Why US travelers are at risk of getting measles?
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said that an individual with suspected measles virus was present in the Philadelphia International Airport for two days. That may have exposed many people to this virus.
Every month, nearly two million individuals travel through the American Airlines hub. Thus, about thousands of people at the airport during that time are suspected of a possible measles exposure.
This warning came after the officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about another 7 cases of measles last week. Moreover, the narrow avoidance of the US measles elimination status has also led to such a warning.
Currently, the Department of Health is working with the municipal and county health departments to notify the residents of Pennsylvania who were on flights with the suspected individual. But other individuals may also have exposure to the virus at Philadelphia Airport during the identified times.
Still, a proper immunization against measles can reduce the risk of getting the disease. The person suspected of the virus was in three of the airport’s terminals (Terminal A, B, and F) on October 2 and 3. Since the beginning of the 2019 US outbreak in January, the state has observed 15 cases of measles. While during this year the number of people sickened by measles has reached over 1,200.
Airports and measles exposure
In 2000, this highly contagious viral infection was announced as eliminated in the US. But the viral outbreak during this year has nearly prompted the WHO to retract that status. The majority of the outbreak observed was in New York, where the measles virus spread like a wildfire in religious and tight-knit communities like Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jews.
Whereas, other outbreaks affected the nation having low rates of vaccination. If 93 – 95 % of the population has immunization against measles, it shows herd immunity. It means people who are unable to get the shot have fewer chances of infection as so many of their community members are protected. But this fails with the failure of vaccination.
As the US has long-eliminated measles, patient zero for each of 2019 measles outbreaks was mostly a visitor from some other country where measles is more common. Due to this reason, airports are significant locations for high alert. In Pennsylvania, the rate of vaccination among 7th graders and Kindergartners is nearly 97%.
That suggests the population has a proper immunization against measles exposure. However, a number of people travel to other locations via Philadelphia International Airport every day. So, health officials have warned every person who could have contact with the sickened passenger to watch for measles signs and symptoms.
While the early symptoms for measles are cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a high fever. These symptoms become evident from a week to 14 days after exposure. Whereas, the characteristic measles rash follows nearly 2 – 5 days after the appearance of initial symptoms.