About 150 people who were exposed to measles in the Little Rock area last week aren’t expected to get it if they’ve had laboratory confirmed illness, were vaccinated or born before 1957, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. People were exposed to measles on United Airlines Flight 5314 from Chicago to Little Rock on Jan. 10; in the UAMS emergency department, from 4:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Jan. 10, or from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 11; and in close contact to the patient while contagious.
Those who have had a single measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot likely won’t get measles, if exposed. Those born before 1957 also shouldn’t get it as they were thought to have been exposed to measles. Healthcare workers should have two MMR doses.
Measles virus is highly infectious, and the Arkansas Department of Health is providing guidance to minimize its spread to others. The incubation period, or the time from exposure to the development of measles symptoms, is between eight to 12 days but can be as short at five days or as long as 21 days. The incubation period can be 28 days for those who were treated with immune globulin.
Healthcare workers should be on the lookout for measles through Feb. 1 and longer if there are secondary cases. Measles symptoms include runny nose, high fever, red eyes, rash and cough.
Those who were on the United Airlines flight or in the emergency department at the listed times should call their doctor before going to the doctor’s office for treatment, even if it’s not related to measles. Providers should place a mask on the patient and remove them from common waiting areas. The patient should be tested for measles and placed on airborne isolation until the appropriate workup can be completed.
Those with measles symptoms should be tested, according to the health department. Providers can contact the ADH Public Health Laboratory if they need help with the testing and can call 501-537-8969 to talk to a communicable disease nurse.