South Australia (SA) Health is warning Adelaide residents to be alert for measles over the next two weeks. A 13-month-old boy who acquired the virus overseas has become the state’s third confirmed case of the highly infectious illness in 2013. Chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said SA Health had already been in contact with a number of people who were exposed to the infected child.
“Measles is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunized and is spread through coughing and sneezing,” Prof. Phillips said. “The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and sore eyes, followed by a rash which begins on the head and then spreads down the body.”
Anyone on board Emirates flight EK440, which arrived in Adelaide at 8:42 pm on 5 April 2013, and anyone in the airport until 11:30 pm that night should be alert for symptoms. Anyone in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital emergency department between 11:00 am and 5:30 pm should also be alert.
Prof. Phillips said anyone who falls ill over the next two weeks should visit their doctor. “It is very important that people phone their GP ahead of any visit and mention why they are attending so that precautions can be taken to avoid spreading disease to others,” he said. GPs have also been alerted to the case.
USA (North Carolina)
Public health officials from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are working with local health departments to investigate an outbreak of measles. As of 18 April 2013, seven cases have been identified in residents of Stokes and Orange Counties, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Local public health departments are contacting other people who might have been exposed to these cases and providing vaccine to limit the spread of infection.
“Measles is very uncommon in North Carolina, so many people aren’t aware of the symptoms,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, State Health Director. “Measles spreads quickly, particularly in children and adults who aren’t vaccinated. We want to make the public aware of this outbreak so individuals can take steps to protect themselves and their families.”
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. It also can be transmitted through contact with secretions from the nose or mouth of an infected person. Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough. After a few days, a rash appears on the head and spreads over the entire body. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children. The disease poses serious risks for pregnant women, including miscarriage and premature birth.
Although the early symptoms of measles can be similar to those of many other infections, Dr. Gerald recommends that anyone with fever, a runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough should stay at home and limit contact with others to avoid spreading illness. If you develop a rash or if your symptoms worsen, call your doctor or seek medical care. If you do seek medical care, call your doctor’s office or health care facility before you go so they can prepare for your visit and protect other patients from exposure.
Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. It is important for all individuals 12 months of age and older to be vaccinated.
Harris County’s first case of measles in two years has been confirmed in a one-year-old child, officials said. Harris County contains Houston, the largest city in Texas.
A positive laboratory test was reported the week of 8 April 2013 for a child who lives on the county’s north side, said Rita Obey, spokeswoman for Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services. So far, no other cases have been reported, Obey said on 13 April 2013.
County health officials have attempted to notify everyone who was exposed to the child, including staff members at a medical office the child visited, she said. Because measles is highly contagious, exposure can occur by simply being in the same room as someone who is infected, she said. Anyone who was exposed to this child should be isolated from the 5th day after exposure to the 21st day, Obey said, except those who have been immunized for measles, mumps and rubella.
Measles is a reportable illness, meaning a physician or other provider who treats someone with the disease must report it to local health officials, Obey said. Since immunizations have made measles relatively rare, some doctors have never seen it, Obey said. The infected child had recently been out of the country, but there’s no way to know where the disease was contracted, she said.