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Contagious Sea-Tac Traveler Triggers Health Alert

An international traveler visiting Sea-Tac Airport last Friday, Jan. 18, has been diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious disease.

Health officials issued a health advisory on Friday after doctors confirmed an airline passenger was sick with measles while visiting Sea-Tac Airport on Friday, Jan. 18.

Public Health - Seattle & King County issued the warning after tests showed an international traveler, who spent time at numerous locations in Sea-Tac Airport last Friday, has been diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious disease.

King County Commmunicable-disease Chief Dr. Jeffrey S. Duchin said that exposed persons may develop measles through the duration of the 7- to 21-day incubation period, until Feb. 8. He urged local doctors and clinicians to be on the lookout for measles cases among patients with symptoms, particularly those who have visited Sea-Tac airport on the same day as the infected traveler.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted by respiratory droplets and airborne spread.

Symptoms include a flat, bumpy rash lasting more than a couple of days, a low-grade fever, cough, coryza, or conjunctivitis.

The disease can result in severe complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, and cases are contagious from 1-2 days before onset of symptoms (typically 4-5 days before rash onset) through 4 days after rash onset.

Measles is preventable by vaccination. MMR vaccine is routinely recommended for all children at 12–15 months of age, with a second dose recommended at age 4–6 years. Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended for all school students and for the following groups of persons without evidence of measles immunity: students in post–high school educational facilities, healthcare personnel, and international travelers who are ≥ 12 months of age. Other adults without evidence of measles immunity should routinely receive one dose of MMR vaccine.

Adults born before 1957 are likely to be immune to measles and vaccination is not routinely recommended. To prevent acquiring measles during travel, U.S. residents aged ≥ 6 months traveling abroad should be vaccinated or have documentation of measles immunity before travel. Infants 6–11 months of age should receive one dose of measles-containing vaccine prior to travel.

Additional information on measles including diagnosis, control measures and vaccination is available from the CDC and Public Health - Seattle & King County.

Physicians and clinicians should contact Public Health promptly by calling 206-296-4774 to report a suspected measles case.

(Ed. Note: The information above is from a Public Health - Seattle & King County health advisory.)

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