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Southwest Airlines Passenger In Texas Diagnosed With Measles

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A passenger on Southwest Airlines flights from Dallas to Houston to Harlingen and back late last month has been diagnosed with measles.

Southwest said in a statement Thursday, "We've shared awareness of the situation and protocols with our employees who also were onboard these aircraft. Our entire fleet is subject to rigorous and regular cleaning programs and every aircraft utilizes hospital-quality HEPA filtration that improves overall quality of the air in the passenger cabin."

Here are the details on the specific flights:

Date: Tuesday 21AUG18

Flight #5 Dallas (Love Field) to Houston (Hobby)
Flight #9 Houston (Hobby) to Harlingen

Date: Wednesday 22AUG18

Flight #665 Harlingen to Houston (Hobby)
Flight #44 Houston (Hobby) to Dallas (Love Field)

Dallas County Health and Human Services is assisting the Texas Department of State Health Services with contact notifications for flights where a passenger  was recently diagnosed with measles.  

The measles case was not a resident of Dallas County.

The Houston Health Department is also assisting in the investigation of a case of measles involving a North Texas resident who recently connected flights in Houston.

The department is directly contacting passengers possibly exposed to the virus.

The traveler did not leave Hobby Airport or visit any airport restaurants or venues and only stayed in a waiting area for about an hour each day, HHD said in a statement.

Measles is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable virus that lives in the nose and throat of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing.

"People at the airport are at a much lower risk of exposure than passengers on the flights with the patient," said Dr. David Persse, Houston Health Department Local Health Authority. "That's why our focus is on directly contacting the passengers to notify them of the risk, inquire about their vaccination status, and make sure they monitor for symptoms and seek medical attention if necessary."

Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. A person who develops systems of measles should contact their medical provider.

Passengers exposed to this patient may develop symptoms as late as September 12, 2018.

Children should get two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Two doses of the vaccine are 97% effective against measles.

"This serves as a reminder about the importance of proper vaccination," Dr. Persse said. "The vaccine is safe and effective."

This investigation is being coordinated by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

On Friday afternoon Texas DSHS tweeted they've notified approximately 350 Texas residents that they may have been exposed to measles on four airline flights within Texas in late August.

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