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Originally published July 6, 2013 at 5:41 PM | Page modified July 7, 2013 at 1:01 PM

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Possible exposure to measles on the Fourth at Sea-Tac airport

An adoptee child who arrived from Beijing on the afternoon of July 4 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport could have exposed the public to measles, said King County’s health department.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A child with measles who arrived from Beijing on July 4 could have exposed those around him at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to Seattle & King County Public Health.

Spokesman James Apa said the child, whose age and sex were not disclosed, was on a Hainan Airlines flight with his adoptive parents. Apa said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has contacted those who were on the plane.

He said the child had symptoms that caused the parents to take the child to a doctor, who, after diagnosis, contacted the health department.

Apa said the risk to the public is low because most people in this area have had measles vaccinations, but those who are unvaccinated, plus pregnant women, infants under six months of age and those with weakened immune systems should be monitored.

The disease is spread mainly through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

People who were in one of the following areas at the airport on July 4, between noon and 4 p.m., were possibly exposed:

• South Satellite International Terminal arrival area.

• Immigration and primary screening.

• Adoption screening.

• Restrooms in the South Satellite.

• Baggage claim/customs.

• Train to main terminal.

• Main terminal baggage claim.

• Elevator in the main terminal to Level 2 parking garage.

Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure. Those who develop an illness with fever or an unexplained rash sometime between July 11 and July 25 should contact their health provider promptly, Apa said.

Measles is a highly contagious and usually severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough and red, watery eyes.

More information can be found on the county website and the Family Health Hotline, 800-322-2588.

On its website, the CDC lists tuberculosis, Neisseria meningitidis,measles and influenza as communicable diseases that may be transmitted during air travel.

The CDC says worldwide, more than 1 billion people travel each year by commercial aircraft.

It says that in jet aircraft built after the late 1980s there are safeguards that make the air-cabin environment “not conducive to the spread of most infectious diseases.” For example, in most newer-model airplanes, recycled air passes through high-efficiency air filters that capture 99.9 percent of particles that include bacteria, fungi and larger viruses, says the CDC.

Apa said that as an international port, Sea-Tac will see individuals with a disease such as measles coming through it. On Jan. 18, a traveler whose flight from Amsterdam connected through Sea-Tac was found to have measles.

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com

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