Seen measles? See a doctor
With eight measles cases reported in the state so far this year, public health officials are trying to find people who may have been exposed at Cone Health in Greensboro.
Seven measles cases have been reported in Stokes County and one in Orange. Because several of the patients were treated at Cone Health, the hospital medical staff and the Guilford County Department of Public Health Department are working together to identify people who may have been exposed to see if they have immunities from a childhood case or have been vaccinated.
Measles is very rare in North Carolina because most people have been vaccinated or contracted the infection during childhood. As the number of unvaccinated people has increased in recent years, more cases of measles have been reported.
“Measles is a highly contagious and very serious illness. I can’t overemphasize the importance of vaccination,” said Dr. Tim Lane, infectious diseases specialist at Cone Health. “The vaccine has been widely available since 1963 and required for school attendance since 2001. It has been used by millions of people to the great benefit of public health.”
Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children. The disease poses serious risks for pregnant women who have not been vaccinated, since it can cause miscarriage and premature birth.
If you think you have been exposed to measles and have symptoms, call your doctor’s office or health care facility before you go so they can prepare for your visit and protect other patients from exposure.
If you have not had measles or if you were born after 1957 and have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, you should get immunized. Vaccine is available through the Guilford County health department by appointment. Call 336-641-3245.
Symptoms: Fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat followed by tiny white spots, some of which may appear inside the mouth. A few days later, a red or reddish-brown rash appears.
Spreading: Measles is so contagious that anyone who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease. The measles virus can live on surfaces for up to two hours.
Complications: In about one of three people, the illness will be serious. Pneumonia can develop and cause death in young children. Ear infections and Encephalitis can develop. Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely.
Treatments: Over-the-counter medicines may be used to reduce fever. Do not give aspirin to children because of risk of Reye’s syndrome, which can cause death.
Measles can be prevented by the MMR, measles, mumps, and rubella, vaccine.
Information: Go to http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rubeola.html