Super Bowl Fans May Have Been Exposed To Measles
February 10, 2012

Super Bowl Fans May Have Been Exposed To Measles

Some of the 200,000+ visitors to the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis last Friday may have been exposed to highly contagious measles, after Indiana state health officials reported that a man with the disease had attended the festivities, reported WISH-TV.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin said health officials have notified health departments in New York, Massachusetts and other states of a possible spread of the disease, and that two additional possible cases have turned up in their state.

About 200,000 football fans visited the Super Bowl village on the Friday before the big game to buy memorabilia, play games and eat, according to the Super Bowl host committee.

Health officials said the infected person, however, did not go inside the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center there.

Measles, a highly-contagious disease, must be reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It takes up to 12 days from exposure to the virus before symptoms appear -- usually a fever is the first sign. The rash associated with measles typically doesn´t appear until about two weeks after exposure.

Another measles case has been reported in Hamilton County north of Indianapolis, but none of the patients with confirmed cases attended the game on Sunday.

Health officials said they are not expecting a widespread outbreak, yet they want the public to be aware of the recent cases so if any new infections emerge, they will be quickly identified, treated and quarantined.

“Even though measles has been declared eliminated in the U.S., it circulates globally, and when we get an importation or somebody gets it while traveling, there is potential for cases to spread,” Dr. Greg Wallace, who heads the CDC´s Division of Viral Diseases, told Mikaela Conley of ABC News. “The vast majority of measles cases we see are in people who are unvaccinated.”

Despite being “eliminated” in 2000 as a widespread threat, measles still infects a number of people each year in the US. The CDC has seen an uptick in cases in recent years. There were 220 reported measles infections in 2011, the highest number of cases since 1996. And so far this year, there have been 156 confirmed cases reported to the CDC, according to Ryan Jaslow of CBS News.

While those who are immunized will most likely not contract the disease, there are some who forego vaccinations and should take precautionary measures. Experts say that babies younger than 1, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system who attended the event last week should also seek medical care as a precaution.

Dr. John Christenson of Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis told The Indianapolis Star by email that although measles can be fatal, it is also preventable. Parents should take this opportunity to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines.

“While some parents may have concerns about the MMR vaccine, there is no evidence that this vaccine causes autism or other chronic adverse conditions,” said Christenson, referring to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine that is a recommended childhood vaccination and usually needed to attend school.

Measles spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. There is no treatment once measles is contracted, but the vaccine is 95 to 99 percent effective in preventing the illness, said Wallace.

While being unvaccinated poses a high risk for developing the disease, any Americans born before 1957 are often considered immune because it once was so rampant in the country that most are likely to have already had the disease once and are now immune to it, according to the CDC.

The CDC also states that if one person has the measles, 90 percent of those close to that person who aren´t immunized will likely catch it.

It is impossible to “track down and contact everybody who may have been at a big public event like this, so we´re hoping media alerts will heighten awareness,” said Wallace.

“Even if you don't have symptoms, it´s a reminder to make sure all your immunizations are up to date,” Larkin told the Associated Press, and reprinted by the Wall Street Journal. “And, it´s a reminder to wash your hands and stay home from work if you´re feeling sick.”


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