Five U.S. airports had travelers pass through with confirmed cases of measles this month, exposing an unknown number of fellow passengers to the highly infectious disease, according to health officials in those cities. Chicago O’Hare, Virginia Richmond International, Austin (TX) Austin-Bergstrom International, Denver International, and Los Angeles International all hosted travelers with measles in December.
“Measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease,” Dr. Mark Escott, medical director for Austin Public Health, said in a statement. “A small number of cases are capable of quickly producing epidemics.”
The exposures cap off the worst year for measles in more than two decades, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 1,276 cases affecting the majority of U.S. states. There were more cases of measles this year than there have been in the four years prior combined.
The year was even worse from a worldwide standpoint. As of mid-November, the number of global measles cases reported to the World Health Organization was three times higher than the number of cases reported during the same time in 2018.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can lead to serious complications ranging from ear infections and gastrointestinal upset to pneumonia and encephalitis. Symptoms usually begin 7-14 days after infection. About 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles are hospitalized. (CDC)
Source: (revised) ABC News