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Pennsylvania State Department of Health Announces Three Cases of Measles in Southwest Region
Date:3/31/2009

Department stresses the importance of measles vaccination

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed three cases of measles in a Westmoreland County family.

Two of the individuals are under the age of 5 and had not received the Measles, Mump, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Their father, 33, received only a single dose of MMR as a child.

Investigation of these cases is under way, and the source of the infection is unclear. However, the most probable source of exposure is likely Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where the family spent several hours in the waiting area of the emergency room on March 10 and March 11. There is no history of travel outside the area indicating the infection was locally acquired.

The Department of Health in coordination with the Allegheny County Health Department is investigating any additional contacts in other healthcare settings related to this outbreak.

The Department of Health is urging anyone who is not currently immune to measles or who may have symptoms of measles to contact their primary health care provider immediately.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms will begin 8-12 days 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 will usually last four to seven days.

An individual with measles can spread the virus to others for five days before and five 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 contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.

Complications from measles can include problems ranging from ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia to encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

The following groups of individuals may be more at risk of becoming infected with measles:

  • Infants who are too young to have been immunized (less than one year of age);
  • Persons who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been revaccinated; and
  • Those who refused vaccination, or are from a part of the world where there is low vaccination coverage.

The 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. There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it.

For more information about measles and the MMR vaccine, visit www.health.state.pa.us or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

    CONTACT:  Stacy Kriedeman
    717-787-1783

    Guillermo Cole Jr.
    Allegheny County Health Dept.
    412-578-8004


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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