Pennsylvania health officials are alerting the public in Cumberland County and Franklin County about a possible measles exposure. The Pennsylvania Department of Health says a person who has measles may have exposed other people to the disease on the following dates and locations:
Walmart, 100 S. Conestoga Drive, Shippensburg: Saturday, Jan. 24, from 8 p.m. to midnight; Shippensburg Urgent Care Center, 46 Walnut Bottom Rd, Shippensburg, Monday, January 26, from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the Chambersburg Hospital Emergency Department, 112 North 7th Street, Chambersburg, Monday, January 26, from 7:45 p.m. to Tuesday, Jan. 27 from 6 a.m.
“Measles is a potentially very serious and highly contagious virus,” said Acting Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine. “This case underscores the importance of having all children appropriately immunized according to recommended guidelines.”
The vaccine for measles is safe and highly effective. Most people in the United States are immune to measles, either because they received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in childhood, or because they were exposed to measles in the pre-vaccine era.
Symptoms will begin one to two weeks after exposure and include a runny nose, watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash starts to spread on the face, down the body and out to the arms and legs. The rash usually lasts four to seven days.
An individual with measles can spread the virus to others for four days before and four days after the rash begins. It is spread by sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.
Complications from measles can include ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.
The MMR vaccine can help prevent infection if it is given within three days of exposure. If it has been more than three days since your exposure, a dose of immune globulin can provide protection up to six days after exposure. There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health urges all residents to be vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12 to 15 months of age, and a second dose is required for all Pennsylvania school children. However, individuals who have received only one dose of the vaccine, instead of the recommended two doses, may still be at risk of infection with this virus.
If you have not received a second dose, the department encourages you to see your health care provider. If you or your children are at risk for measles, and become ill with the symptoms one to two weeks after possible exposure, contact your pediatrician or family physician immediately to share that you’ve been exposed so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else.