The Washington Post

More measles cases among Afghan refugees

- — Jenna Portnoy

Six child evacuees from Afghanista­n who traveled through Virginia have been diagnosed with measles, state public health officials said Tuesday, as they worked to notify people who were potentiall­y exposed to the virus.

Officials in Northern Virginia, where most of the cases were identified, said the risk of a larger outbreak of measles is low because more than 90 percent of the population is vaccinated.

However, officials released a detailed list of times and locations where people may have been exposed between Sept. 3 and 10, including the internatio­nal arrivals building and main terminal ticketing level at Dulles Internatio­nal Airport.

People were also potentiall­y exposed at Stonesprin­gs Hospital Center, Inova L. J. Murphy Children’s Hospital and Inova Fairfax Hospital, as well as the Dulles Expo Center and Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport.

Officials urged anyone who was potentiall­y exposed who has never received a dose of measles vaccine to contact their primary care provider or health department to discuss care.

Up to 5,000 Afghans a day have traveled through Dulles, the entry point to the United States for most evacuees, The Washington Post has reported, on their way to settle in communitie­s around the country.

Resettleme­nt flights were paused last week after the first measles cases were diagnosed, and federal agencies are considerin­g immunizati­ons at overseas transit points as a condition of travel.

State and federal public health officials are also working to identify and notify potential exposures at Fort Pickett military base in Nottoway County as well as a Richmond-area hospital, said Laurie Forlano, deputy director of the Office of Epidemiolo­gy at the Virginia Department of Health.

“We are not aware of any community transmissi­on at this time,” she said.

Of the cases of measles among evacuees diagnosed at Inova Children’s Hospital, one child may have exposed others before measures were taken to prevent the spread of the virus, according to Cynthia Gibson, chair of the hospital’s pediatrics department.

The Fairfax County Health Department contacted patients already discharged and hospital officials notified patients inhouse, she said.

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