These people caught measles. Who’s next?

Measles is a very infectious disease. It’s so infectious that just being around someone who has it can make you sick. And you can even get it from the air after they’ve gone.

The measles virus.
Image credit // CDC /
Goldsmith and Bellini
Take the case of two travelers who shared the same Chicago airport gate. One was a 19-month-old child who’d received a first dose of measles vaccine, but got sick with measles while traveling. Another was a 46-year-old adult on a different flight who was diagnosed with measles a few weeks later. Researchers say the adult caught it from the child.

While the child could have passed the illness along anywhere at the airport where the two travelers crossed, researchers think that it probably happened when the child’s family was waiting near the gate to board and the adult traveler exited the plane. Measles can stay in the air for up to two hours, even after an infected person leaves. Luckily, in this case, both patients recovered.

Fast-forward to this spring in Washington state. A very sick woman in Clallam County caught measles while visiting her doctor at a hospital that was treating a patient with measles earlier. The virus stayed in the air of the hospital just like it was in the air at the airport gate. After being around the virus in the hospital, her body was unable to fight it and she died. Her death was the first from measles in 12 years in the United States.
Traveling safe includes staying healthy.
Get vaccinated before you get on board!
Image credit //

Both stories offer us a few reminders:
• To protect others, everyone who can be vaccinated should be. It only takes one sick person to make everyone else sick.
• International travelers ages 12 months and older should have two doses of measles vaccinations. The odds of getting sick go up if you haven’t gotten vaccinated or aren’t fully vaccinated.
• If you think you have measles, don’t go to the doctor’s office. Stay home and call your physician with your symptoms.

Protect yourself and protect others. Get vaccinated.

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