Measles cases linked to Afghan evacuation identified in Virginia

Health officials in Virginia say they’ve identified measles cases among several people who recently traveled to Virginia as part of the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan.

READ MORE: Northern Virginia health officials warn residents of possible exposure to measles

According to the Virginia Department of Health, five people have been diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious disease that’s been all-but-eliminated by vaccines.

Health officials have not specified where the cases were identified, but they say they’re working to contact people who may have been exposed in three locations:

  • Dulles International Airport
  • Fort Lee
  • Fort Picket

Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger told FOX 5 she’s concerned about the strain the medical needs of the evacuees is putting on local hospitals.

READ MORE: More than 50,000 evacuated Afghans expected to be admitted into US

"This was a primary area of interest of mine, I’m concerned about what potentially would be stressing the local hospitals and healthcare systems and at Pickett they’ve had to respond by bringing medical facilities and personnel right there to the base," Spanberger.

The measles health alert arrives as the Northern Virginia Emergency Response system is asking the Biden administration to pay for the mounting cost of keeping track of the hospitalized evacuees and for giving them rides back to the Dulles Expo Center.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pointed to the Dulles Expo Center to highlight the Biden administration’s response today as he was grilled by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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"Here at home, I spent some time at the Dulles Expo Center, where more than 45,000 Afghans have been processed after arriving in the United States.  It’s remarkable – remarkable to see what our diplomats, our military, and employees from other civilian agencies across the U.S. Government have been able to achieve in a very short time," said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.  

The Virginia measles cases are being reported four days after the U.S. halted in-bound flights of Afghan evacuees following the discovery of cases among the new arrivals.

The Virginia Department of Health says it’s working to identify anyone who may have been exposed at the airport, as well as in Richmond.