Airport staff say potential measles exposures in major U.S. airports aren’t affecting SRQ travelers

Measles Precaution SRQ Airport

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - It’s the busiest travel season of the year and in addition to the stress of making flights on time, travelers now have another concern.

Three new U.S. airports have potentially been exposed to people flying with the measles. This is in addition to two other airports earlier this month.

So how does this affect travelers here on the Suncoast? Staff said so far, it hasn’t.

The three major airports with possible measles exposure are in Richmond, Virginia, Austin, Texas and Chicago.

It’s an obvious concern for the many travelers because this is the peak of travel season. An estimated 18,000 travelers flew in and out of Sarasota-Bradenton International airport on Thursday alone.

The happy holiday travelers and Christmas cheer at SRQ airport came with just a dash of fear.

“More people are not vaccinating their children and they’re against that kind of thing," said Andy Szuberla, a local at the SRQ airport. "Which is scary for younger people or people who have young children, it’s definitely a concern.”

In fact - Andy Szuberla was picking up his dad, who flew in from Chicago. Thankfully, both of them are vaccinated.

“We’re not concerned about that, but I am concerned for other people and I think it’s something that was almost eradicated at one point and now it’s becoming a problem again," said Szuberla.

It’s a problem that started for travelers on December 11, when three children with measles traveled to Los Angeles and Denver International airports.

Now, health officials at Chicago’s O’Hare International, Austin’s International Airport and Richmond’s International Airport in Virginia say travelers may have been exposed there last Tuesday.

“One person who came from Europe who was not vaccinated and contracted the measles disease, then went through those three airports," said Rick Piccolo, SRQ airport’s president and CEO.

Though SRQ does have non-stop flights to and from O’hare International Airport, staff said there isn’t yet a concern for measles exposure here.

“We haven’t received any notifications from the Department of Health, so usually that would be something that you would receive at the airport if there was an outbreak of any significance in the area," said Piccolo.

To be safe, health officials are urging everyone to check their immunization records and get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

People can also get a blood test to see if they’re immune to the highly contagious disease.

The Florida Department of Health requires all children to have a measles vaccination before attending childcare or school, but there are exemptions accepted for religious and medical reasons.

Travelers who have gotten their vaccines are urging others to do the same.

“Vaccinate your kids," said Greg Hayes. “Vaccinate yourself,” said another traveler, Julie Graham.

For more information on the measles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.

For more information about Florida’s school immunization requirements, click here.

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