INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An unvaccinated passenger who flew from Los Angeles to Indianapolis said she was “not worried at all” and refused to be swayed by “scare tactics” after health officials warned of possible measles exposure at five U.S. airports, including LAX.
People who passed through airports in Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Chicago and Richmond in December may have been exposed to the highly contagious virus.
There were no confirmed cases of measles linked to Indianapolis International Airport (IND).
Three children hospitalized with measles in Colorado traveled from New Zealand to Los Angeles before arriving in Denver, health officials confirmed.
The three infected travelers were in Terminals 4 and 5 at LAX on Dec. 11 between 6:50 a.m. and 12 p.m., according to the LA County Department of Public Health.
The children and their family flew to Denver International Airport the same day. People who were in concourse A, on the train to the terminal, the west baggage claim or at the west passenger pick-up area on Dec. 11 from 1:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. may have been exposed, airport officials said.
People who were at Children’s Hospital Colorado on Dec. 12 between 1 and 7:30 p.m. may have also been exposed, health officials said.
An adult who contracted measles while traveling in Europe visited multiple restaurants and a Target store in Austin from Dec. 14 to 17 before boarding a flight at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, according to the Austin Public Health Department.
The passenger was at the Austin airport on Dec. 17 from 12 to 4 p.m. and departed from a United Airlines gate, health officials said.
They flew to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and boarded a connecting flight to Richmond International Airport.
People in Terminal 1 at O’Hare on Dec. 17 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. may have been exposed, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.
People at the Richmond airport on Dec. 17 from 9 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. may have also been exposed, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Anyone exposed to the virus is at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days.
The first symptoms of a measles infection usually include a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever and red eyes. The red or reddish-brown measles rash typically appears 3 to 5 days after the first symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mervin Moore, an Indianapolis resident who stopped at O’Hare on his way home from the Philippines, said the exposure warnings were a “bit of a concern.”
“I do work in the medical field,” Moore told News 8. “We stay vaccinated as a precaution… I understand religious [vaccine exemptions] but I still think it’s a good thing to do.”
Measles can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can stay in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves.
Renee Vantiem, an Indianapolis native living in Los Angeles, said she was not vaccinated against measles and had no concerns about contracting or spreading the virus.
“I’ve never been vaccinated,” Vantiem told News 8. “I don’t even get flu shots. I’ve hardly ever been sick in my life.”
She flew from LAX to IND on Christmas Day, two weeks after the infected children stopped in Los Angeles. She wasn’t worried about potential measles cases among other Christmas travelers that had not yet been confirmed by health officials, she said.
Suzanne Buschjost, a St. Louis resident who flew from Indianapolis to Baltimore on Christmas Day, said she was also “not too concerned” — because she, her husband and their children had received the two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“There are people who can’t, for various reasons, be vaccinated as well,” Buschjost told News 8. “So I felt like it was my obligation to do that for my family because we don’t have those issues. We were happy to do it so we could be protected and we could protect other people.”