Child with measles traveled to Memphis airport, exposing others

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — People who travel through Memphis International Airport may have been exposed to measles.

The Shelby County Health Department confirmed that an international traveler who arrived in Memphis late at night on Monday, March 12 had the measles.

The child traveled from Brussels to Newark before arriving in Memphis.

The small child was taken to a local hospital and placed in isolation around 10 p.m., said Helen Morrow with the Shelby County Health Department.

"To the best of my knowledge the child is doing very well," Morrow said.

Morrow says you can catch measles by just breathing it in.

Symptoms include a rash, a barking and runny eyes.

It can lead to pneumonia, blindness and inflammation of the brain.

The health department has worked with the CDC to identify passengers on the airplane who would've been close to the patient. Locally, about 75 people may have been exposed, Morrow estimated.

Measles is highly contagious for four days before and after the rash appears, Morrow said. The disease has not been totally eradicated and cases pop up periodically in the U.S.

"We do know the flight and have identified those people at risk. It wouldn't be the entire airplane. It would be two seats in front of the patient and two seats behind," Morrow said.

Authorities haven't released which flight the child was on.

Another person with measles traveled to Detroit last week.

It's unclear if anyone walked around the plane and past the small child.

"We have 72 hours to offer vaccination to those people not fully immune," she said.

Officials say passengers who shared a flight with the travelers could start developing symptoms as late as April 2.

"Anyone who thinks that they may have come in contact with the virus or feels that they're sick, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately."

Children around 1-years-old get the vaccination and then a second dose before they go to pre-school.

Doctors say the first round is 90 percent effective.

Doctors say people who got the measles vaccine twice are protected. If you only got one shot they say you could still catch the viral infection.

Measles can be spread through coughing and sneezing, and can lead to complications like ear infections and stomach upset.

"This is one exposure, but it's not the only exposure that's going to happen in the United States,"

Doctors say the child is doing okay and will likely be released from isolation Friday.