An estimated 150 people were exposed to the measles in Arkansas by an infected person who flew from Chicago to Little Rock last week, although no other infections have been reported, the Arkansas Department of Health reported Wednesday.
The infected traveler, the state's first reported measles patient in three years, flew to Little Rock from Chicago on United Airlines Flight 5314 on Jan. 10, according to a department news release.
Gary Wheeler, the department's chief medical officer, said the person, who came to Little Rock for a job, started the journey in another country, where the person is from, and developed symptoms en route.
The person was hospitalized at UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock for about three days before being released and is no longer considered contagious, Wheeler said.
The Health Department attempted to contact travelers, hospital patients and others who may have come in contact with the infected person, and vaccinated more than 20 people last week, Wheeler said.
Those potentially exposed include people who were on the flight, as well as people who were in the hospital emergency room from 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10 to 12:30 a.m. Jan. 11 and on Jan. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the news release.
Most people in the United States are immune to the measles, either because they have been vaccinated or were infected before the vaccine became available.
Those who may been exposed to measles from the infected traveler should contact the Health Department so it can verify that they have been vaccinated, Wheeler said.
People who haven't been vaccinated will be monitored to see if they develop the illness, he said.
People infected typically develop symptoms within eight to 12 days, according to the news release. Initial symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes. Those are followed within three to five days by a rash.
To avoid infecting others, people who think they may have the measles should call their doctors before seeking treatment, Wheeler said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness can lead to complications including hearing loss, diarrhea, pneumonia and swelling of the brain and can be fatal in rare instances.
Last year, 120 people from 15 states were reported to have the measles, up from 86 cases in 16 states in 2016, according to the CDC.
Most cases occur in people who haven not been vaccinated, according to the agency.
The illness was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000 but is still common in some countries, according to the CDC.
Metro on 01/18/2018