Two Confirmed Cases of Measles Diagnosed; Health Officials Seek Other Individuals Who May Have Been Exposed
Montgomery County health officials announced today that two cases of measles have been confirmed. Officials advise those who came in contact with the sick individuals they may have been exposed to measles.
The ill individuals are unvaccinated children who arrived in the United States on Wednesday, August 24. On Monday, August 29, prior to the onset of illness but during the time when the measles virus could potentially have been spread, the children visited the Suburban Washington Resettlement Center, located at 8700 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. Individuals who visited the office building on August 29 should be aware that they may have been exposed to measles.
Individuals who have had measles, have received two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR) or were born in the United States before 1957 are not considered at risk for contracting measles. However, health officials recommend that parents of infants, unvaccinated pregnant women and unvaccinated persons with weakened immune systems who may have been exposed on August 29 contact their health care providers. Immune Globulin, a medicine which may prevent measles if given within six days of exposure may be recommended.
Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to measles or who might have measles infection should call their doctor’s office for instructions prior to going for an evaluation. Those who may have potentially been exposed may also call Montgomery County Health and Human Services’ Disease Control Office at 240-777-1755 to determine their risk of contracting measles.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that is spread through the air when someone with measles coughs or sneezes (and by direct contact with infected nose or throat secretions). Symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people develop a fever greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery 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.
Measles has been virtually eliminated in the United Sates due to the widespread use of the MMR vaccine. However, sporadic cases can arise when unvaccinated people enter the United States or when an unvaccinated individual visits a foreign country where measles circulates in the population. Proof of vaccination has been required for school admission since 1957 and for citizenship applicants, so that most people have either been vaccinated or are from a generation when they were exposed to measles as children.
Vaccination with MMR is recommended for all children, with the first dose given at about one year of age and a second dose between ages four and six -- before the child enters kindergarten. The second dose is critically important to ensure protection from measles. Individuals of any age can receive MMR vaccine.