Last night, many of us returned to our hotel rooms to find papers with a disturbing message slipped beneath our doors. It said, in short, that we had likely been exposed to measles, a rather unpleasant disease best known for the distinctive red or brown dotted rash it causes. An electronic version of the notice is available here.
The initial case, a young girl attending Intel ISEF, is receiving treatment at a local hospital. State health officials believe she was infectious during her time at the science fair, including her visits to local hotels and businesses. What makes measles so dangerous isn't that it usually causes life-threatening symptoms; it usually doesn't. But it is extremely infectious, and in the past an infection has spread so quickly and generated such large numbers of cases that hospitals have been overwhelmed. That is very unlikely to happen this time, since most Intel ISEF participants have probably been inoculated against measles in the past, thanks to aggressive vaccination efforts throughout the western hemisphere.
According to the Wikipedia entry, the disease spreads via the respiratory system, usually by airborne aerosol. New infections incubate for four to twelve days before symptoms manifest. This means no one will know for certain the scope of the outbreak for several days at least. It could be significant; it could also remain a single isolated case. To minimize potential infections, free vaccinations are being provided to any Fair participants who may be at risk.
Are there any updates on the current medical status of the young girl receiving treatment for measles? And since the fair has commenced, are there any preventative measures that should be taken as we return home? Some participants may have started their return travel before the free vaccinations were offered/provided. Also, the link to the electronic version of the notice is broken.