By Stacey Leasca
May 29, 2019
Airplane boarding
Credit: Patrick Strattner/Getty Images

There have been 940 confirmed cases of measles in the United States so far in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This number, the CDC noted, is “the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.”

The rapid spread of the disease, which can cause high fevers and potentially lead to death, is largely due to unvaccinated people as well as travelers to and from the United States, the CDC explained. To try to control the spread, one option is a travel ban on those who may have contracted the virus.

As The Washington Post explained, there is a little known and rarely used program that could allow the federal government to ban anyone from boarding a plane who is deemed a health risk. It’s called the Do Not Board List, and is managed by the CDC.

“The CDC’s travel ban authority often gets little discussion because it is a politically charged and politically visible request,” Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health policy at Georgetown University, told The Washington Post.

Gostin said the measure is “seen as a government using its power over the people and the states, which is kind of toxic in America right now.” He added, “There is nothing unethical or wrong about it. It’s just plain common sense that if you have an actively infectious individual, they should not get on an airplane.”

So, rather than putting people directly on the list, officials are instead warning people who are believed to have contracted the illness to stay away from airplanes instead.

What else can people do to avoid spreading measles or contracting it? According to the CDC, it comes down to prevention by getting yourself and your family vaccinated, and by heeding any doctor warnings not to travel.