Georgia health officials reported Monday of the state’s first reported case of measles since 2012.
The patient is an infant that arrived in Atlanta from outside of the U.S. and is being cared for at Egleston at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA).
State public health officials said they know the child left Kyrgyzstan headed for Istanbul, Turkey. He was symptomatic on the flight. After a layover in Chicago, the final destination was Atlanta on February 4, local media reports.
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is working with CHOA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the patient and to prevent further spread of measles.
Health officials say the case is unrelated to the Disneyland outbreak.
Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. It is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least six months old and young children who have only received one dose of measles vaccine.
“Keeping immunization levels high is critical to preventing outbreaks or sustained transmission in Georgia,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “More than 98 percent of children heading into kindergarten in our state have received all school required vaccines, which includes two doses of measles vaccine.”
Doctors recommend 2 doses of MMR vaccine for best protection. The first dose is given to children 12-15 months old, the second dose between 4-6 years. Students at colleges and universities who do not have evidence of immunity against measles need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, especially if they are considering travel outside of the U.S. or were born in the early 1960’s when a less effective vaccine was used. A simple blood test can determine if a person has measles immunity.
“We don’t need to be alarmists. We need to be aware,” said Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of Health Protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health. “What happened in Disneyland is an alert that we live in a world now in which international travel is very common and frequent, and diseases are only hours away.”