Officials issue measles exposure alert for major US international airport

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health have issued an advisory warning that travelers who passed through the Philadelphia International Airport at select times on October 2 and 3 may have been exposed to measles. The state warns that an unidentified individual who had measles was located at the airport on these days, potentially exposing a large number of people to the highly contagious condition.

The Philadelphia International Airport is the 20th busiest airport in the US, shuttling more than 30 million people to other domestic and international airports every year. Measles, meanwhile, is a highly contagious virus that is currently the source of outbreaks in many countries, including parts of the US.

On Friday, Pennsylvania's Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley issued an advisory warning that people who visited the airport on October 2 and October 3 may have been exposed to measles if they were located at the following terminals and times:

- Wednesday, Oct. 2, Terminal F from 6:30PM to 12:00AM

- Thursday, Oct. 3, Terminal F from 4:00PM to 12:00AM

- Thursday, Oct. 3, Terminal A from 8:30PM to 11:30PM

- Thursday, Oct. 3, Terminal A/B shuttle bus from 8:30PM to 11:30PM

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by droplets — this means someone with measles spreads the virus to others by sneezing or coughing in a public place. The condition is very easy to prevent with two doses of a common vaccine, but the first does can't be administered until a baby is at least 12 months old.

Health officials in PA warn that adults who were vaccinated with the measles vaccine that existed from 1963 to 1967 are at risk of contracting the virus and should be revaccinated with the current MMR vaccine. In addition, some elderly people may have only received one measles vaccine does, which leaves them vulnerable to the condition.

Vulnerable populations are protected when the healthy people around them are vaccinated against the disease; dropping vaccination rates in the US have caused various outbreaks, however, and the country narrowly avoided losing its measles-free status earlier this month. Other countries, included the United Kingdom, weren't so lucky and no longer have elimination status.