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Travelers possibly exposed to measles at airport

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SEATTLE — Travelers who passed through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport earlier this month may have been exposed to the highly contagious measles virus, local health officials say.

The King County Department of Public Health in Washington state is investigating “a confirmed case of measles infection” in a traveler who was at the airport while he or she was contagious. The traveler was in the airport’s North Satellite Terminal, on the interterminal train and at baggage claim between 8:10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.

The infectious traveler also visited the Courtyard Seattle Federal Way hotel’s restaurant, The Bistro, sometime between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on that day.

“If you were at either of these locations during the times listed above and are not immune to measles, the most likely time you would become sick is between Sept. 13 and Sept. 27,” the health department said in a statement.

Measles is spread through the air, by breathing, coughing or sneezing. Symptoms usually include fever, cough and conjunctivitis, along with a rash. In rare cases, measles can lead to pneumonia and brain infections, which can be fatal.

Most people in the United States are immune to the measles virus because they have been vaccinated. The traveler was likely exposed to measles abroad, the health department said.

This is not the first time Seattle has made a measles case public. In April, Washington state health officials posted online the locations a woman infected with the virus had been during every hour that she was contagious. The list included a Kings of Leon concert at Key Arena.

The United States is seeing a record number of measles cases this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 29, the CDC confirmed 592 cases, which is the highest number recorded since measles was considered “eliminated” in the United States in 2000.

The CDC recommends that children get two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine beginning at 12 months, with the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years old. Infants 6 to 11 months old should get the vaccine before international travel.