According to an Alaska Public Health Advisory last Friday, on September 11, 2014, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology was notified by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Anchorage Quarantine Station of a suspected measles (rubeola) case associated with the cruise industry. An adult crew member had recent contact with a confirmed measles case abroad, and subsequently developed classic clinical symptoms of measles on September 9 while onboard a ship in Alaska waters.
The patient had international and domestic air travel as well as cruise travel while infectious. CDC is conducting airline contact investigations, and alerting states who had individuals who might be at risk of infection. All cruise passengers will be informed of possible exposure directly while on board the ship.
This incident presents no direct risk to any Alaska communities at this time. The affected crew member did not disembark in Alaska, and the timing of illness is such that any individuals who came into contact with the patient onboard the ship could not have developed symptoms or spread the disease while in Alaska, if they disembarked.
Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. The disease of measles and the virus that causes it share the same name. The disease is also called rubeola. Measles virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs.
Measles spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It is so contagious that any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.
Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. About one out of 1,000 gets encephalitis, and one or two out of 1,000 die.