Northern Virginia Confirms Measles Case

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The Virginia Department of Health announced that a Prince William County resident has measles, the first confirmed case in the Commonwealth this year.

This announcement comes as Virginia health officials assist in investigating several cases of measles in the metropolitan Washington region. However, there is no known link between this case of measles in an adult and the other cases in the metro D.C. area. The source of the measles virus in the Virginia resident has not yet been identified.

Measles is a highly contagious illness and health officials are taking precautions to prevent its spread. Initial symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes, which can last about a week. The measles virus spreads through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected individual. The virus can live in the air for several hours after a person coughs or sneezes.

While most people with measles will recover, 20 percent of cases experience one or more complications, especially among children under five years of age and adults over 20 years.

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People who think they may have measles or may have been exposed to someone with measles should first call their local emergency room or doctor’s office before seeking care. That will allow health care workers to prepare the proper infection control measures before a patient’s arrival. People who think they have measles should also limit their exposure to others and stay home. Frequent handwashing and covering one’s cough will help limit the spread of disease.

Measles vaccine, which has been commonly used for more than 50 years, can safely and effectively prevent this disease. This case indicates why it’s important for people to be protected against measles. People should have their health care providers review their immunization records and get vaccinated against the measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases as appropriate. Measles vaccine is available through primary care physicians and local health departments.

While measles is not widespread in the United States, sporadic cases can occur when unvaccinated people visit other countries where measles is more prevalent.

To help identify those who were in contact with the infected individual and may be at risk, people who were at any of the locations listed below at the specified date and time are asked to call the Virginia Disease Prevention hotline at (800) 533-4148.

VDH has issued guidance to the medical community throughout the state, alerting health care workers to evaluate their personal vaccination status and to be aware of measles symptoms in patients. In cooperation with officials in the District of Columbia and Maryland, the Virginia Department of Health continues to contact individuals who may have been exposed to measles in the metro D.C. area.

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