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Officials Looking For Travelers Exposed To Measles

February 27, 2011

State health officials are tracking down travelers who have been exposed to measles after a passenger who was contagious passed through three major U.S. airports.

Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a statement that a woman with a confirmed case of measles traveled from the U.K. through Washington Dulles International Airport, Denver International Airport and on to Albuquerque International Airport last week.

Skinner said the CDC has provided state health officials with information about passengers on those flights to begin tracking those who may have had contact with her and if their immunizations are current.

Colorado health officials issued a warning on Friday to travelers and workers at Denver International Airport of possible exposure to the passenger who is from New Mexico and was at the airport for several hours on Tuesday night.

Skinner said officials believe the diagnosed case of measles was contracted oversees.

He said states will determine who is at risk and typically look at other passengers seated near the confirmed case.

Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus spread person to person that develops seven to 18 days after exposure.  It looks and feels like a cold initially, but later a rash develops on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

People with measles are contagious four days before and four days after the rash appears.

Measles is a leading cause of death among children in the developing world, but is seldom seen in the U.S. where vaccination is required for all school children.

According to the CDC, the most recent large outbreak of measles in the U.S. was in 2008, where over 130 cases were reported in 15 states.

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