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August 21, 2011

For More Information Contact

  • Maribeth Brewster (804) 652-5997
    Risk Communication Manager

Health Officials Inform Travelers of Possible Measles Exposure
Amtrak Northeast Regional train #171 (Massachusetts to Virginia) on August 17 only; Passengers should check vaccination status

(RICHMOND, Va.) Out of an abundance of caution, the Virginia Department of Health is informing people who were passengers on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train #171 on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, that they may have been exposed to a person with measles.

The Northeast Regional train #171 originated in Boston, Mass., at 8:15 a.m. and made stops in Maryland (Aberdeen, Baltimore – Penn Station, BWI and New Carrollton), District of Columbia (Union Station) and Virginia (Alexandria, Burke Centre, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville and Lynchburg). The train ended its run in Lynchburg at 8:36 p.m. Passengers who got off of train #171 before its arrival in Philadelphia need not be concerned.

Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected individual. Individuals at risk for infection include those who are not vaccinated against measles or cannot recall or document vaccination. Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages.In the first stage, most people develop a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body.

Based upon the date of exposure, it is possible that symptoms could develop as late as September 7, 2011, if individuals were infected.

What should you do if you were a passenger on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train #171 on August 17, 2011?

  • If you notice the symptoms of measles, please call your primary health care provider to discuss further care. Call ahead before going to your doctor’s office or to an urgent care facility or the ER so the appropriate precautions can be put in place to keep from potentially infecting others.
  • Complications such as pneumonia and ear infections, while rare, can occur and are more common among children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 years old.

Measles is easily preventable through safe and effective MMR vaccine. The best protection against future measles cases is the on-time vaccination of all susceptible persons. Two doses are recommended for most individuals with the first dose given at age 12-15 months and the second prior to kindergarten entry (age 4-6 years).

While few measles cases are reported in the U.S., the disease is common in many parts of the world, including popular tourist destinations. All persons who will be traveling internationally should be evaluated for measles immunity and vaccinated, as needed.

For more on measles, go to

  • Virginia passengers with additional questions can contact their local health department or call the Prince William Health District at 703-792-6345.
  • District of Columbia passengers can call 202-671-4222.
  • Maryland passengers with additional questions should call their healthcare provider or their local health department.

Last Updated: 08-21-2011

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