Measles alert issued for New England train riders

Virginia state health officials recently issued an alert for anyone who shared a train with a foreign visitor to Northern Virginia who fell ill from the measles.

The Health Department announced that passengers who took Amtrak’s Northeast regional train No. 171 from Philadelphia on August 17 should check the status of their vaccinations, according to the Washington Post.

Maribeth Brewster, the Health Department’s risk communications manager, said passengers who develop symptoms need to immediately contact their healthcare provider. Early measles symptoms include a fever and cough. According to Brewster, passengers who were exposed on August 17 could develop symptoms as late as September 7.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread by atmospheric contact with the nasal, oral or throat droplets from coughs and sneezes of those who are infected, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The visitor contracted the measles outside of the United States and showed symptoms only after arriving in the country, according to the Washington Post.  

Recent measles outbreaks in the United States have caused concern among national public health experts. The health department reported that the U.S. had approxiamtely 58 cases of the measles on average annually from 2001 to 2008. In winter and spring 2011, there were 118 confirmed cases of the illness. Ninety percent of the cases were in people who had not received the vaccination.

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