First confirmed case of “suspected” measles in St. Mary’s County

News Release, St. Mary’s County Health Department

UPDATE: The St. Mary’s County Health Department is investigating a suspected case of measles in the county. Additional testing is required for further evaluation. 

***** This updated release sent approximately one hour after the initial release contradicts the original release(below). The original states the patient was diagnosed AND confirmed to have measles. And that the Health Department was investigating the potential for exposure. The new release states it is a “suspected case” of measles.******


LEONARDTOWN, MD (March 5, 2019) – The St. Mary’s County Health Department is investigating a confirmed case of measles in the county.

The individual was diagnosed on March 4, 2019. Known potential contacts of the sick individual are being contacted by health officials and facilities where exposure may have occurred during the contagious period of time. Listed below are the dates, times and locations of the potential public exposures associated with the individual diagnosed with measles: 

  • Sunday, March 3 from approximately 8:00 am to 1:00 pm – Patient was evaluated at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital (MSMH) Emergency Department and was isolated within some hours after arrival. Duration of potential exposure may have been from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm within the emergency department. MSMH is working with the Health Department to address this issue.

A local hotline (301-475-4911) has been established to take questions and concerns from community members and will be open today, March 5, 2019 from 9:00 am-10:00 pm.

Most individuals in the United States have been vaccinated against measles and are immune to developing measles illness. However, those who are not vaccinated and have exposure to measles virus may develop measles illness.

What is Measles
Measles is a highly contagious. Measles is a serious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) that causes a rash and fever. It is very contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Measles can live up to two hours in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed, even after the person has left the area. An infected person can spread measles virus to others even before knowing he/she has measles — from four days before developing the rash to four days after developing the rash.

Symptoms:

  • 7 – 14 days after infection:
    • Fever greater than 101 degrees
    • Runny nose
    • Red/watery eyes
    • Cough
  • 3-5 days later:
    • A rash of flat red spots begins to appear on the face and spreads downward over the entire body
    • Small red bumps can develop on top of the flat red spots
    • Red spots may join together to form larger red areas

If you notice the symptoms of measles, immediately limit your exposure to other people by staying home.  Individuals who are concerned about possible exposure to or infection with measles should call their primary health care provider before visiting the provider office in order to receive appropriate guidance and take precautions ahead of a visit. If using an emergency department for care, call ahead to let the facility know of your concerns so preparations for your arrival can be made. This reduces the chances of potentially exposing other people to measles. Potentially exposed individuals with questions may call the the hotline at 301-475-4911.

Measles Vaccination
Vaccination with MMR is recommended for all children, with the first dose typically given at about 12-15 months and a second dose between ages 4 and 6—before the child enters kindergarten. Adults can also receive MMR vaccine if they are not already immune. There are special recommendations for vaccination in situations where there may have been measles exposure or for international travel.

Measles has been virtually eliminated in the United States due to the widespread use of the MMR vaccine.  However, sporadic cases and measles outbreaks can arise when unvaccinated people visit the United States, when an unvaccinated individual visits a foreign country where measles circulates in the population, and when measles spreads domestically across individuals not fully vaccinated against measles.  More recently, measles outbreaks across the US are connected to lower vaccination rates in communities.

For more information about measles, visit www.smchd.org/measles/ or www.cdc.gov/measles.

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