A traveler who passed through DFW Airport for a connecting flight on May 15 has tested positive for measles, health officials revealed.
Other passengers who were in Terminal D customs, the Skylink and Terminal A Gate 8 on the evening of May 15 should be aware of the possible exposure to the virus. Measles is transmitted via airborne droplets when the infected person exhales or coughs.
DFW Airport handles roughly 184,000 passengers every day. Tarrant County Public Health says last week one of them was infected with measles.
Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja says that person had a connecting flight on the evening of Wednesday, May 15.
“I know that this person was traveling back from overseas,” he said. “After they landed at their home destination, they were diagnosed with measles.”
Taneja wouldn’t say where they were traveling from or where they were headed, but health officials believe the person was infected while abroad. They say the infected passenger traveled through the customs area of Terminal D, Terminal A and the Skylink tram between 5 and 11 p.m.
Tarrant County is warning DFW travelers there at that time and who are not vaccinated to look out for signs and symptoms of the disease. Those symptoms include: Mild to moderate fever, cough, sore throat, pink eye, runny nose and a rash that begins near the hairline.
“This year, we’re experiencing a large outbreak,” Taneja said.
Measles is spread when an infected person breathes or coughs droplets into the air. Those droplets can linger long after the infected person has left.
“Exposure doesn’t mean you're infected. If you’re vaccinated, that vaccine is protecting you,” Taneja said. “If you’re not vaccinated, that’s where the risk comes in.”
After being eradicated in the U.S in 2000, the number of measles cases has drastically increased over the last three years. There were 83 cases total reported in 2016. But this year, nearly 900 cases have been reported and its only May.
Taneja has a message for those opposed to vaccines.
“Why should I get vaccinated? Well because it can still come back,” he said. “It’s not eradicated from the world. It’s just eradicated from the U.S.”
The most vulnerable population are babies younger than 15 months old who likely haven’t yet had their first dose of the MMR vaccine.
Health officials say they knew about this passenger’s visit to DFW shortly after their diagnosis, but they didn’t release the information because they had to finish their investigation and look through airline logs and track down passengers.
Anyone who is not vaccinated and may have been exposed at the airport should be on the lookout for symptoms until June 5.