Measles Case Reported In Missouri

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An eastern Missouri resident who contracted measles while attending a recent youth conference in Maryland was one of some 620 people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Meeting organizers are working with state public health officials to notify everyone who attended the meeting of their potential exposure to the measles virus. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has identified 11 other Missouri residents who attended the conference and may have been exposed.

Measles is a serious, potentially deadly viral illness that can be easily spread among people who have not been vaccinated. Measles can be spread through a cough or sneeze or by touching objects where the virus has landed. A person with measles often has a high fever, watery eyes, a runny nose and a cough. A rash generally appears two to four days after the person begins feeling ill, and often begins on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.

The Missouri measles case was linked by Maryland health officials to a woman who had measles and had attended a church meeting at the same conference center where the youth conference was held. Maryland currently has four active cases of measles. But the other three have been linked to a person who apparently contracted the virus while traveling in China.

The Missouri patient, a resident of Warren County, is reported to be improving. The patient had never been vaccinated against measles. At this time, the Missouri patient is the only confirmed case of measles linked to the youth conference held in Maryland.

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However, health department officials urged health care providers throughout the state to watch for symptoms of measles. The 11 other Missouri residents who attended the conference reside throughout the state, including the Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas and in rural Missouri.

In recent years, Missouri has averaged one to two cases of measles per year, though it is not uncommon for no cases to be reported in a given year. This most recent case is the fourth in Missouri in the last four years.

“The best way for people to avoid getting the measles is to be immunized,” said Susan Kneeskern with the state health department’s Bureau of Immunization Assessment and Assurance. “To prevent measles, children – and some adults – should receive the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.”

Health department officials warned that it may take seven to 21 days after a person is infected for symptoms to appear. The rash usually appears red and blotchy, and can last up to six days. It usually begins on the face and then spreads down where it may eventually cover the entire body.

The person is considered contagious from four days before to four days after the rash starts. If anyone in your family develops cold-like symptoms with a fever and a rash, keep them at home. DO NOT go to a health care facility without calling first. The ill person will need to be kept separate from others to prevent further spread of the virus.

Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are needed for complete protection. Children should be given the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age. The second dose can be given four weeks later, but is usually given before the start of kindergarten at four to six years of age.

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