On Tuesday, health officials warned that Los Angeles International (LAX) passengers could have been exposed to measles. The LAX measles scare occurred on February 21st which should be good news for any recent passengers worried about contamination.
Measles is a contagious viral disease. The disease is known to cause cold-like symptoms, in addition to a high temperature and a rash. According to the CDC, it can lead to complications requiring hospital stays, including pneumonia. However, the disease is preventable thanks to vaccinations such as the MMR.
On Thursday 21st of February, a passenger arrived at Los Angeles International (LAX) carrying the measles virus. The passenger arrived on China Eastern Flight 583 which originated in Shanghai. While the Boeing 777 was scheduled to land at 0905 local, it in fact landed early at 0829. The aircraft stopped at the TBIT’s gate 133. Unfortunately the passenger was connecting onto a domestic flight and likely spent quite some time at the airport.
The infected passenger then boarded a Delta flight from Terminal 3. This was flight 5705, which departed from Gate 32. While the flight was on time, it didn’t leave until 1926 local time. This means the passenger was probably in the airport for around 11 hours.
Health Officials have warned that anybody who was either in LAX’s TBIT or Terminal 3 between 0900 and 2100 could have been infected with measles. Fortunately, there is no known current risk of catching measles from LAX. Indeed, the virus cannot live beyond two hours outside the body according to information from the CDC.
Muntu Davis, the Los Angeles County Health Officer, told a press release:
“If you think that you or someone you know has been exposed to or has measles, contact your healthcare provider by phone right away before going in. Getting immunized is the best way to keep from getting and spreading measles.”
Should I worry?
Unless you have already developed symptoms of measles from this specific outbreak, there appears to be very little risk. According to the CDC, the virus can take between 7-21 days to develop a rash from exposure. The average amount of time this takes is around 14 days.
Today marks 21 days since the incident took place at Los Angeles International. As such, the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department states “If exposed individuals have not developed symptoms by March 14, 2019, they are no longer considered at risk of acquiring measles from this exposure.”
Unfortunately, airports can be hotspots for infectious diseases. Many passengers arrive from across the globe and pass in close proximity. It is concerning that news of the outbreak has taken 19 days to become public.
Were you in LAX on 21st February? Are you worried? Let us know in the comments down below!