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DC Cautions Residents of a Potential Measles Exposure

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC — DC Health has been notified of a confirmed case of measles in a person who traveled through DC area airports when returning from international travel. While the threat of transmission is low, DC Health is notifying District residents who were at these locations about their possible exposure. Listed below are the dates, times, and locations where the potential exposure occurred:

  • Dulles International Airport (IAD): the international arrivals area of the main terminal between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2024
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA): Terminal A between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 4, 2024

If you believe you were at one of these locations at the time of the potential exposure, DC Health recommends:

  • If you have never received one of the measles vaccines (either the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella or a measles only vaccine), you may be at risk of developing measles. Anyone who was exposed and is at risk of developing measles should watch for symptoms, as described below, until January 25, 2024.
  • If you notice symptoms of measles, immediately isolate yourself by staying home and away from others. Contact your healthcare provider right away. Call ahead before going to your healthcare provider’s office or the emergency room to notify them that you may have been exposed to measles and ask them to call the health department. This will help protect other patients and staff.
  • If you have received two doses of a measles vaccine, or were born before 1957, you are protected and do not need to take any action.
  • If you have an immunocompromising condition, please consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions or develop symptoms.
  • If you have received only one dose of a measles 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 healthcare provider about getting a second vaccine dose.

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious, viral respiratory illness that occurs most often in children. Symptoms can include a fever of 103°F–105°F, anorexia, fatigue, cough, conjunctivitis, bluish-gray spots in the mouth, followed by a telltale rash. The incubation period of measles from exposure to the onset of symptoms ranges from 7–12 days. The rash appears 2–4 days after the onset of symptoms and lasts 3–5 days. The rash starts at the hairline and then proceeds to the face and upper neck, later spreading down the body and outward to the extremities. Sometimes immunocompromised patients do not develop a rash. Patients are contagious from 4 days before the rash appears through 4 days after the rash appears. The virus is transmitted when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The measles virus can remain infectious in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area.

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The District of Columbia Department of Health promotes health, wellness and equity, across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our nation’s capital.

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