Travelers who visited the O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday and has not been vaccinated for measles are advised to undergo testing by state health officials.
An infected passenger arrived at the airport's Terminal 5 on Wednesday morning and departed aboard a domestic flight from Terminal 1. However, it is entirely possible that the passenger also traveled to other areas of the facility.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, anyone who was at the airport on that day from 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. could have been exposed to the contagious disease. Although a majority of the public get routine shots in their childhood, the department is most concerned about those who have not been vaccinated as they are at high risk of infection.
Individuals who suspect that they have been exposed are encouraged by the IDPH to consult with their healthcare provider immediately. As of the moment, local health agencies are reaching out to Illinois residents identified to have been potentially exposed to the measles virus at the airport.
Measles Symptoms: Signs Of Exposure To Rubeola Virus
Travelers should look out for common symptoms of measles. These include a rash that starts growing on the face or neck, then spreads to other parts of the body, a high fever, runny nose, coughs, and red or watery eyes.
The IDPH states that fever should be anticipated within seven to 18 days, while rashes normally appear two weeks following exposure. This means a contaminated traveler could start exhibiting symptoms as late as Jan. 31.
For early detection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests looking for Koplik spots. Unlike rashes, these spots are white in color and appear only inside the mouth two or three days after the onset of symptoms.
Deadly Complications Of Measles
Measles is known to cause serious complications in all age groups but they are more severe in children aged below 5, and adults older than 20.
Ear infections and diarrhea are the most common complications of measles. Ear infections happen to one out of every ten children with the contagious disease, often resulting in permanent loss of hearing.
The contagious disease could also cause pneumonia and encephalitis or swelling of the brain. Hospitalization is needed for both cases.
According to the CDC's statistics, one out of every 20 children infected with rubeola virus develop pneumonia, which happens to also be the most common cause of pediatric deaths from measles.
Moreover, one child out of every 1,000 cases of measles contract encephalitis that could lead to convulsions causing deafness and intellectual disability. All in all, for every 1,000 children who are exposed to the virus, one or two will die from measles.
To prevent contracting measles, IDPH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Layden recommends two doses of vaccine for 97 percent protection. She also encourages all family members to update their measles/mumps/rubella vaccination.