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Health officials warn of possible measles exposure at five US airports

By DAVID MATTHEWS | The New York Daily News | Published: December 23, 2019

NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — Multiple travelers passed through five U.S. airports while infected with measles in December and may have exposed countless other passengers to the infectious disease, according to health officials.

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, a person infected with measles traveled through two terminals at O’Hare International Airport on Dec. 12 and Dec. 17.

The Virginia Department of Health said a person infected with measles was at Richmond International Airport on Dec. 17.

On that same day, Austin Public Health reports an infected person was near a United Airlines gate at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

“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.”

Earlier in December, three unvaccinated children tested positive for measles after returning from a country that is experiencing a measles outbreak. The children passed through several parts of Denver International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport on Dec. 11, according to both cities’ health departments.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 1,276 confirmed measles cases in 2019, more than the previous four years combined.

Outbreaks in multiple areas threatened the United States’ measles elimination status, which has held for 20 years.

The World Health Organization said measles cases across the globe tripled in 2019.

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