VDH: ‘No immediate threat’ for exposure to measles after recent warning

Posted at 2:20 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 14:23:59-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- There is "no immediate threat” for exposure to the measles virus after a recent warning, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Health officials issued a warning Saturday for folks who may have come in contact with a person with measles this week in Henrico and Chesterfield counties.

Officials said the person with the confirmed case of measles first visited Richmond International Airport on Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 9 to 11:45 p.m.

Additionally, the person visited the Health Visions MD (1230 Alverser Drive, Suite 100 in Midlothian) on Thursday, Dec. 19 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Those dates and times are very important as officials say the virus is highly contagious during a two hour period.

Health officials say there were alerted to the possible exposure by a clinician who knew the warning signs.

Measles, which is common in many parts of the world, is highly contagious and is spread through coughing, sneezing. Symptoms usually appear in two stages, officials said.

In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes, and a cough. In the second stage, a rash appears on your face and can spread to your entire body. Officials say that occurs around the third to the seventh day.

Officials believe with the two dates of possible exposure; symptoms could show up as late as January 11, 2020.

"That measles virus from when that individual transited through the airport or through the doctor’s office... That virus is gone, that virus is dead. So, individuals can go through the airport right now there is not a threat to them. They can go to that doctor's office right now. There is no threat to them. There is no special cleaning need for them to go in there safely," said Richmond City Health District (RCHD) Deputy Director Dr. Melissa Viray.

Health officials ask that you keep watch of any symptoms as measles are a threat to young children and older adults.

"But we come back around to if you do not know your vaccination status, the best way to prevent this going forward it to make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations," said Viray.

Officials offered the following advice for anyone who may have been exposed:

  • If you have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine (either the measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] vaccine or a measles-only vaccine which is available in other countries) you are protected and do not need to take any action.
  • If you have received only one dose of a measles containing 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 health care provider about getting a second vaccine dose.
  • If you have never received a measles containing vaccine nor had a documented case of measles, you may be at risk of getting measles from this exposure. In particular, if you are pregnant and unimmunized or unaware of your immune status, immunocompromised, or an infant under 12 months of age, you/your infant may be at risk of severe illness if you develop measles from this exposure. Contact your health care provider or your local health department for advice on possible intervention to decrease your risk of becoming infected or other precautions you may need to take.
  • If you notice the symptoms of measles, stay home and away from others and immediately call your primary health care provider or health department to discuss further care. Call ahead before going to the office or the emergency room and tell them that you were exposed to measles and are having symptoms.

Click here for more information about measles from the Virginia Department of Health.