Measles case confirmed in Allegheny County

Published Feb 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm (Updated Feb 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm)

The Allegheny County Health Department is reporting that testing by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed a measles case, and efforts are continuing to find contacts of the case.

While most people are not at risk because they have been immunized or have had measles, anyone born since 1957 who has not received two doses of effective measles vaccine known as MMR, which would include infants too young to have been immunized; persons who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been re-vaccinated; and those who refused vaccination are at risk.

Persons whose immune systems are compromised due to disease or medication are also at risk.

Times, dates and locations where people may have been exposed to the case include:

• The 64 Port Authority bus 9-11 a.m. Feb. 14.

• Main entrance to the Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Feb. 14.

• Bridgeside Point II Building in the Pittsburgh Technology Center noon-3 p.m. Feb. 14.

• 5215 Centre Avenue in Shadyside, the building that houses Stull, Jarvis and Spinola medical practice and the Shadyside Family Health Center, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 18.

The Health Department recommends that if those who are susceptible and may have been exposed become ill with symptoms of measles, including rash, between now and March 7, to contact their primary care provider immediately and tell them that you may have been exposed. Do not go directly to the office, urgent care center or emergency room, as this may expose other persons. Pregnant women should contact their doctor about their immune status.

Health care providers who suspect measles should call the Health Department for consultation and to arrange testing.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure and include a runny nose, red and watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash begins on the face and spreads downward to neck, trunk and extremities. 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 by infected droplets during sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected droplets and secretions can remain in the air and 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.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12 to 15 months of age, and a second MMR vaccine 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 susceptible to the virus. The MMR vaccine can help prevent infection if it is given within three days of exposure.

The Health Department recommends that any person who is due for measles vaccination make arrangements to receive it from their medical provider. Persons without health insurance may receive the vaccine at the Health Department’s immunization clinic at 3441 Forbes Avenue in Oakland. There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it.

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