国際空港経由で入国した外国人が、突然高熱を出し、病院へ運ばれた。検査の結果「はしか」と判明。 当局はこの患者の入国経路を詳しく公表し、同時期に同じ場所にいた人間に対し注意を呼び掛ける。だが、当局の懸念はもっと別のところにあった。1998年頃に生まれた子供に対し、はしかワクチン予防注射を見送った父兄が約10万組いたのだ。その当時流布していた学説（はしかワクチンは自閉症を誘発する）を信じ込んだためだった。 その後の研究で学説は否定されたが、ワクチンを打っていないままの子供の数は相当数に上るとみられる。もし彼らにウイルスが伝染したら、高熱だけでなく死にいたる大病に発展しかねない。今後とも予防には十分注意すべし。
Air travelers may have been exposed to measles
Health officials in five states are warning travelers, airport employees and others that they may have been exposed to measles.
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In Boston, health departments have been offering vaccinations to people who may have had contact with a 24-year-old French consulate employee there who became sick earlier this month.Health officials are also contacting airport employees who may have come into contact with an unvaccinated 27-year-old New Mexico woman with measles. She flew from the United Kingdom to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia Feb. 20, then flew from Baltimore to Denver and Albuquerque on Feb. 22.Passengers who were also traveling on those days should call their doctors if they develop symptoms of measles, officials say. Symptoms begin with a runny nose, red, watery eyes and a fever of 101 degrees or higher, then progress to a red rash that begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.Anyone infected on those flights could start showing symptoms now, says David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department in Virginia, where Dulles International Airport is located. People typically begin showing symptoms within one to three weeks after being infected. So far, Goodfriend says he hasn’t found anyone with symptoms.Doctors investigate even one case of measles because it’s extremely contagious, Goodfriend says.Thanks to vaccinations, doctors have eliminated measles in the Western Hemisphere, says William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. New cases here — about 150 a year or fewer — are typically brought in by people from overseas.”We don’t want measles to be re-introduced here,” Schaffner says.The virus infects more than 80% of unvaccinated people exposed to it, Schaffner says. Measles can linger in the air for two hours and spreads through coughing, sneezing or secretions from the mouth, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.”Air currents can take the virus to the far corners of the room and into another room,” Schaffner says. “The current generation of doctors won’t recognize it because they’ve never seen it.”Measles can cause rare but life-threatening side effects, such as pneumonia and brain inflammation, and is especially risky for pregnant women, babies under 1 year old and people with compromised immune systems, Schaffner says.People with symptoms shouldn’t go to work or school, and should call their doctors before showing up in the office, to avoid infecting other patients, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.Maintaining a high rate of “herd immunity” protects those babies, who don’t get their first measles shots until they’re 12 months old, Schaffner says.People are considered immune if they were born in the USA before 1957, have had measles or have had two doses of measles vaccine, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A medication called Immune Globulin can prevent measles if given within six days of exposure.The United Kingdom and Ireland have weathered a number of measles outbreaks since 1998, when the author of a now-discredited article in The Lancet alleged a link between the vaccine and autism. Hundreds of people there were hospitalized and four died, says Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, author of Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.Myths about an autism-vaccine link — which have been refuted by 14 studies — have led parents of 100,000 children not to vaccinate them, Offit says.Contributing: Associated Press.