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Measles Outbreak Traced to Traveler at Seattle Airport

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A measles outbreak, traced to a traveler who had a layover at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is threatening residents in King County, Wash.

Health officials there say most people in the area should have immunity to measles through vaccinations, which means most residents should be protected from an outbreak of the highly contagious disease.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus, and can be spread by coughing or sneezing.

While the state of Washington has fewer than 10 reported cases of measles each year, according to the King County Health Services website, Dr. Jeff Duchin of the Public Health Center warns that infants, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are still at high risk.
"Those people who are at the exposure sites need to contact their health care providers about watching their health and possibly taking vaccine or medication to prevent them from getting infected," Duchin says.

This is not the only measles threat in recent years for King County.  In 2010, a child adopted from India had been infected before arriving in the U.S.  In that case, according to the Public Health Center, over 100 King County residents were said to be at-risk for exposure, yet no secondary cases were reported.

Measles symptoms, including rash, fever, cough, runny nose, eye irritation and muscle aches, typically begin seven to 14 days after a person is infected, says the CDC.

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