Travelers at Los Angeles International Airport may have been exposed to measles late last month, health officials said Tuesday.
A passenger who had a layover at LAX on Feb. 21 was diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious illness that spreads through coughing or sneezing. People who were in Terminal B and Delta Terminal 3 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. that day may have been exposed, health officials said.
Those most at risk are people who have not been vaccinated against measles, officials say. If a person infected with measles walks into a room, the virus can stay there for two hours after the person leaves, ready to infect. But the measles vaccine is 97% effective against the disease.
There is an outbreak of measles in Washington state that has sickened more than 70 people, most of whom had not been vaccinated against the disease.
“Getting immunized is the best way to keep from getting and spreading measles,” L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a statement Tuesday.
There is currently no known risk of catching measles at LAX, officials said.
Officials did not say where the person last month was traveling to or from, but that the person arrived on a China Eastern Airlines flight. The flight numbers provided by the Public Health Department correspond to flights from Shanghai to LAX, and then from LAX to San Antonio, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
One out of every four children who gets measles will be hospitalized and two out of every 1,000 will die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms from measles, which include a rash, can take as long as three weeks to appear. Officials say that if individuals do not develop symptoms by Thursday, they are considered no longer at risk of developing measles from the LAX exposure.
The passengers seated next to the infected person on the flights will be notified separately, officials said.
The last major measles outbreak in L.A. County was in 2017, when more than a dozen people in a Jewish community in the western part of the county became ill. None of those infected had been vaccinated, officials say.