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updated: 5/10/2013 8:15 PM

Passengers on flight exposed to measles

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Associated Press

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Dozens of people in Michigan and plane passengers from several states have been contacted after health officials learned they may have been exposed to measles through an 8-month-old from the Battle Creek area.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked down 53 people who rode with the child on an international flight that came through Chicago last month, according to MLive.com.

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Patients who visited a Kalamazoo hospital emergency room and a Battle Creek pediatrician office at the same time the child was at both places also were contacted by local health departments.

The child fell ill after returning from a Middle Eastern country going through a measles outbreak, said Michelle Thorne, personal health manager at the Calhoun County Health Department.

Vaccinations were given to 39 people in Calhoun County. About five people in Kalamazoo County also needed immunizations.

"It's a very big deal from public health perspective," Thorne said. "We don't want to see any further cases come out of this."

Measles is highly contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough. After a few days, a rash on the head spreads over the entire body. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children.

"We vaccinate against it for a reason -- it can be serious, and have serious consequences," said Linda Vail, Kalamazoo County health officer.

The 8-month-old, whose name and gender were not released, was recovering. The child had not yet received a measles vaccine, which usually is given at 12 months, MLive.com reported.

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