The Florida Department of Health today confirmed a second case of measles in an unvaccinated child in St. Lucie County. This locally acquired case was isolated as a precaution as the first case was confirmed and poses no additional risk of exposure to the community. This brings the total cases of measles between St. Lucie and Indian River counties to five. Measles is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus of the same name (Measles). The disease is highly contagious and can spread to others who are unvaccinated.
“Clint Sperber, County Health Officer for DOH-St. Lucie, says vaccination is the most important approach to prevent measles; and we implore healthcare providers to use every patient encounter to ensure that all their patients are up to date on vaccinations, especially before international travel. In addition, we ask health care providers to be alert to the possibility of measles and be familiar with the signs and symptoms so they can detect cases early.”
“We applaud all who have gotten vaccinated or confirmed their immunity in light of the unfortunate cases of measles in Florida this year”, said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Vaccination remains the best way for Floridians and visitors to protect their children, themselves and their communities from what is ultimately a serious yet preventable illness.”
People who are particularly susceptible are pregnant woman, infants under the age of 12 months and people who are immunocompromised. Vaccinations are available year round through health departments in Florida’s 67 counties or your local doctor’s office. The department encourages all residents and visitors who have not been immunized to get vaccinated immediately.
The department continues to work with community health care and governmental partners in sharing the facts about measles and the benefit of being vaccinated. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is about 97 percent effective if both scheduled doses are received. This means about three out of every 100 fully vaccinated persons may still be affected. For those who do get measles, the illness is likely to be milder after vaccination and they are less likely to spread the disease to others, including people who can’t get vaccinated because they are too young or have weakened immune systems.
Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing and is highly contagious. When a person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air. The virus can live on surfaces or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed for up to two hours. It can be transmitted from four days before the rash becomes visible to four days after the rash appears. A typical case of measles begins with flu-like symptoms. The symptoms of measles generally begin approximately seven to 14 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles and include the following: Blotchy rash, fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis), feeling run down, achy (malaise) and tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots).
People who develop these symptoms should contact their health care provider right away.
Children should be immunized against measles with the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR). Children should receive two doses, with the first at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at four to six years of age. When vaccinating adolescents and adults, two doses of MMR may be required. People with underlying health conditions should discuss additional booster doses with their health care provider to determine need.