Passengers on 4 Southwest Airlines flights in Texas may have been exposed to measles

Southwest Airlines passengers on four Texas flights in late August may have been exposed to measles.

Southwest is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reach travelers, because a Southwest passenger on four flights over two days was later diagnosed with measles.

The flights:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 21: Flight 5 from Dallas Love Field to Houston Hobby
  • Tuesday, Aug. 21: Flight 9 from Houston Hobby to Harlingen, Texas
  • Wednesday, Aug. 22: Flight 665 from Harlingen to Houston
  • Wednesday, Aug. 22: Flight 44 from Houston Hobby to Dallas Love Field

Southwest, the nation's largest airline by domestic passengers, said in a statement it has also notified employees on those flights. The airline also said its planes are subject to "rigorous and regular cleaning programs'' and that every plane has "hospital quality" filtration to improve air quality.

Measles is a highly contagious virus and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing, according to the CDC. It starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat.

The possible measles exposure on Southwest was first reported by NBC 5 in Dallas. It said passengers on the flights were told, in a letter from the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, to keep an eye on potential symptoms until Sept. 11 because the incubation period can be up to 21 days.

It is not the first warning about measles issued to airline passengers this year. In March, for example, a child who flew from Belgium to Newark, New Jersey, to Memphis, Tennessee, was treated in isolation at a Memphis hospital after being diagnosed with measles and passengers were notified. There was another case in Detroit in March.

The Southwest measles incident happened in August but news of it comes on a week with two airline health scares. On Wednesday, three passengers and seven crew members on an Emirates flight from Dubai to New York ended up in the hospital and were diagnosed with flu and other respiratory viruses.

On Thursday, passengers on two American Airlines flights from Europe to Philadelphia International Airport reported flu-like symptoms and were evaluated.

The CDC was also involved in those cases.

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