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The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) reported Friday on a confirmed travel-related case of measles in Little Rock at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). ADH is urging anyone who may have been exposed to measles to immediately take precautions to make sure they have had a dose of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in the past.

Arkansas map/ National Atlas of the United States
Arkansas map/ National Atlas of the United States

Anyone who was in the UAMS emergency department Wednesday, January 10, from 4:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Thursday, January 11, and again on Thursday, January 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. has possibly been exposed to the measles.

People who were in the emergency department between those hours are already being contacted by ADH so they are aware of where to get vaccinated if they are not up-to-date on the measles vaccine. The ADH is advising for anyone who may have been exposed, and who is not up-to-date on their MMR vaccine, to get the shot in the next 24 hours.

Anyone who is concerned that they may have been exposed, and who is not up-to-date on their vaccine, is encouraged to get their vaccine Saturday. Those who get regular care from UAMS can go to the UAMS emergency department to get the vaccine. All other individuals who need the vaccine are urged to go to the Pulaski Central Health Unit (at 3915 W. 8th Street in Little Rock) tomorrow, Saturday, January 13, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Arkansas, mumps and the MMR vaccine: A discussion with Dr Dirk Haselow

“Measles is highly infectious,” said Dirk Haselow, MD, PhD, State Epidemiologist and Outbreak Response Medical Director for ADH. “The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is to make sure you and your family are up-to-date on the MMR vaccine.”

Measles is a virus that can be spread very easily. It starts with a high fever, runny nose, cough and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the head and gradually moves down the body. Measles can be very serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in four people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized. It usually takes anywhere from 9-21 days after someone is exposed for them to develop symptoms. Anyone who suspects they may have the measles should call into their healthcare provider before entering for instructions on how to proceed, in order to not expose others.

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Because measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, it is rare in the United States. This is the first case of measles in Arkansas in three years.

According to the CDC, from January 1 to December 30, 2017, 120 people from 15 states (California, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington) and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles.

Measles: The ABCs of this very contagious viral disease