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King County investigating possible measles exposure at SeaTac Airport

(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

An alert has been issued after a child with measles traveled through Sea-Tac Airport last week.

Public Health — Seattle & King County is investigating a new confirmed measles case in a King County resident, a male child, with possible exposure to the public at Sea-Tac Airport.

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The health department says the boy was in the airport’s north satellite and baggage claim on Thursday, Nov. 5, between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., which includes the time that the child was at the location and two hours after. Measles can remain in the air for up to two hours. Anyone who was at these locations during the times listed could have been exposed, though most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, so the general public’s risk is low.

If you were in the locations of potential exposure, you should find out if you’re been vaccinated or have had measles previously, and make sure you are up-to-date with the recommended number of vaccinations. Call a health care provider if you develop an illness with fever or an unexplained rash. To avoid spreading measles further, do not go to a clinic or hospital without calling first.

It is believed that the King County resident got the disease while traveling outside the United States.

“As long as people travel, no community is safe from measles introductions,” said Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Measles vaccine is safe, effective, and offers excellent protection. If you aren’t sure if you’re up to date with the recommended doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), see your health care provider and get a dose of MMR if needed.”

Duchin adds that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important to stay up-to-date on all scheduled vaccinations to keep our community protected against other serious infections.

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Fever and a rash are often the first symptoms of measles, but they can take up to a week to 21 days after exposure to show. The rash is most likely to appear a few days after the fever, 10-12 days after exposure.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that mainly spreads through the air, but it is preventable with the safe and highly effective MMR vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two doses of the MMR vaccine are more than 95% effective in preventing measles, and that protection is long lasting.

For more information, visit King County’s website here.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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