Health officials investigating possible measles exposures in Central Virginia

Posted at 7:15 PM, Dec 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-21 19:22:04-05

HENRICO and CHESTERFIELD, Va. – Health officials in Central Virginia are warning people who were at various locations during specific time frames that they may have been exposed to someone with measles, the Virginia Department of Health announced Saturday.

Area health officials are mounting a coordinated effort to identify the people who may have been exposed.

The Virginia Department of Health provided a list of the dates, times and locations of the potential exposure sites associated with the confirmed cases of measles:

  • Richmond International Airport – 1 Richard E. Byrd Terminal Dr., Richmond, Va. 23250 on Tuesday, December 17 from 9-11:45 p.m.
    • The health department notes that the person did not pick up bags in baggage claim and proceeded directly to a private vehicle at curbside for transport.
  • Health Visions MD – 1230 Alverser Dr. Suite 100, Midlothian, Va. 23113 on Thursday, December 19 from 12:30-5:30 p.m.

Measles is a highly-contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of a person who has been infected.

Symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees; a runny nose; water; red eyes and cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body.

Based on the date of exposure, the Virginia Department of Health has determined that if you were infected with measles, you may develop symptoms as late as January 11, 2020.

If you were at one of the above locations during this time, you are advised to do the following:

  • 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 aware 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.

Measles is easily preventable through a safe and effective MMR vaccine. The best protection against future measles cases is the vaccination of all susceptible people. Two doses are recommended for most people, with the first dose given at age 12-15 months and the second before kindergarten entry (age 4-6 years).

Measles is common in many parts of the world, including popular tourist destinations. Everyone who will be traveling internationally should be evaluated for measles immunity and vaccinated as needed. Infants too young to be vaccinated should consider avoiding travel to areas with measles until they can be vaccinated.

Residents in the Henrico or Chesterfield Health Districts who have additional questions about this measles investigation can call their local health department at (804) 501-4150.

Click here for more information on the disease.