2 with measles traveled through Detroit Metro Airport

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Vaccination is the best protection against measles

Pontiac — Oakland County Health Division confirmed two cases of measles in county residents Tuesday who traveled through Detroit Metro Airport and may have exposed other travelers. 

The health department said the two Oakland County residents arrived on a flight at Detroit Metro Airport at 5 p.m. Oct. 23 and are advising passengers who were possibly exposed to watch for symptoms 21 days after exposure and contact their doctors.

The department declined to comment on which airline or terminal the residents traveled through. The airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection," said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. "Immunizations are the best way to protect our families and communities from vaccine preventable diseases like measles." 

Measles is spread by direct person-to-person contact, and through the air by a contagious person sneezing or coughing, the health department said. The virus can live for up to two hours in the air where the infected person coughed or sneezed.

Dr. Russell Faust, Oakland County medical director, said the airport does not have to take any extra precautions since the virus only lives for two hours in the air or on the surface.

If exposed, approximately 90 percent of people who have not been vaccinated or previously had measles will develop the disease, the department said.

"It doesn't do as well on surfaces as it does in the air," Faust said. "The airport does not need to sanitize anymore than they usually do. Anyone who may suspect they have measles, its crucial for them to call ahead rather than going to the clinic."

Symptoms of measles usually begin seven to 14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure and may include a high fever; cough; runny nose; red, watery eyes; and tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums and roof of the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin.

A rash that is red, raised, blotchy; usually starts on the face, spreads to abdomen, back, arms and legs three to five days after symptoms begin, officials said. 

Michigan’s first case of measles in 2018 was also confirmed in a patient who was at Detroit Metro on March 6. Faust said Oakland County has had three cases of measles this year.

For more information about measles, visit www.oakgov.com/health or reach the nurse on call at (800) 848-5533,  8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Health division offices are located at:

  • North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph, Building 34 East, Pontiac
  • South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield, Southfield

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