In the latest issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a case of measles exposure at an airport gate highlights the extremely communicable nature of the disease and the potential for infectious droplets to remain suspended in the air after an infected person leaves the area.

A child aged 19 months was febrile and developed a rash on April 17, 2014 while on an international flight from India to the United States before taking a connecting flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. The CDC was notified on April 22, 2014 by the Minnesota Department of Health that a child aged 19 months had received a confirmed diagnosis of measles and passengers were informed about the potential exposure; no documented transmission was reported as a result of the two flight exposures. The child had received one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine at age 12 months.

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Heath notified the Minnesota Department of Health on May 5th that a man, aged 46 with unknown vaccination status, also had a confirmed case of measles. The man had not traveled on the same aircraft as the child but health officials believe that the transmission occurred in the gate area during the 46-minute interval between the arrival of the adult’s flight and the scheduled departure of the child’s flight.

This case emphasizes the importance of immunization at ≥12 months of two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine separated by at least 28 days, with the first dose administered at age ≥12 months.

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