Measles exposure possible Jan. 18 at Sea-Tac Airport

Local public health officials have learned of a diagnosed case of measles in a contagious traveler who made a stop at Seattle-Tacoma International  Airport on Jan. 18.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease caused by the measles virus. It is mainly spread through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes, according to a press release from Public Health – Seattle and King County.

Because most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, the risk to the general public is low, according to the health department. But people who were at Sea-Tac Airport around the same time as the contagious traveler should be aware of their measles immunity status, and call a health-care provider promptly if they develop an illness with fever or an unexplained rash illness before Feb. 9.

People at highest risk from exposure to measles include those who are unvaccinated, pregnant women, infants under six months of age and those with weakened immune systems.

The contagious traveler flew from Amsterdam to Portland, Ore., through a connecting flight in Seattle on Jan. 18. Persons who were in one of the following areas at Sea-Tac Airport between 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 were possibly exposed to measles:

  • S Gate
  • South Train
  • Main Terminal South Station
  • Train between South and North Station
  • Main Terminal North Station
  • North Train
  • N Gate

After arriving in Oregon, the traveler received medical attention and was diagnosed on Jan. 23, and determined to be infectious beginning on Jan. 18.  Health authorities in Oregon, Washington and at the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were notified. The CDC is following up to notify those on the same flights as the contagious traveler.

About measles

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious and usually severe illness that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. The rash begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Fever (often greater than 101° F), cough and other symptoms begin two to four days before the rash appears.

Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after the exposure to measles occurred. Measles is contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.

All international travelers are routinely recommended to have two doses of measles vaccine before travel. For more information on who needs measles vaccine, see For more information about measles, a fact sheet is available in multiple languages


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