PA Department of Health Announces Possible Measles Exposure in Northampton County
HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Department of Health is advising the public of exposure to a possible case of measles in Easton, Northampton County.
The New Jersey resident has not yet been positively diagnosed, but has a probable case of measles. The person may have exposed people to measles when visiting Kohl’s department store (3768 Easton Nazareth Highway) on Aug. 19 from 4 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Based on the date of exposure, it is possible that symptoms could develop as late as Sept. 9 if individuals who visited the department store were infected during that timeframe.
Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms begin one to two weeks after exposure, and include a runny nose, watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash starts to spread on the face, down the body and out to the arms and legs. The rash usually lasts four to seven days.
An individual with measles can spread the virus to others for four days before and four days after the rash begins. It is spread during sneezing or coughing, by touching contaminated objects and by direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.
Complications from measles can include ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.
Most people in the United States are immune to measles, either because they received the Measles Mumps Rubella (known as the MMR) vaccine in childhood, or because they were exposed to measles in the pre-vaccine era.
The MMR vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12 to 15 months of age, and a second dose is required for all Pennsylvania school children. However, individuals who have received only one dose of the vaccine, instead of the recommended two doses, may still be at risk of infection with this virus.
The following groups of individuals are at risk of becoming infected with measles:
- Infants less than one year of age, because they are too young to receive the MMR vaccine;
- Persons who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have never been revaccinated;
- Persons born after 1957 who have only received one dose of MMR vaccine;
- Those who refused vaccination; and
- Those from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or low circulating measles.
If you or your children are at risk for measles and become ill with symptoms one to two weeks after possible exposure, you should contact your health care provider immediately and tell them that you’ve been exposed to measles so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else and the cause of illness can be determined.
Individuals possibly exposed at Kohl’s in Northampton County would not benefit from receiving immune globulin, as it is only effective if taken within six days of exposure to measles.
Health care providers who treat patients with a suspected case of measles should immediately call their local health department and/or the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (877-724-3258) for consultation and to arrange testing.
For more information about measles, visit http://www.health.state.pa.us/pdf/epi/MeaslesFactSheet.pdf.
Media contacts: Christine Cronkright or Brandi Hunter-Davenport, 717-787-1783
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health