St. Lucie County, FL health officials have confirmed a local case of measles today in an unvaccinated six-year-old child. Local health officials immediately notified the St. Lucie School District superintendent and are working closely with district staff to limit any potential exposure and protect the community. School and public health officials will notify parents of children with exposure risks. 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.

St. Lucie County, Florida Image/David Benbennick
St. Lucie County, Florida
Image/David Benbennick

“Measles is a very serious disease,” said County Health Officer Clint Sperber. “It is important for all residents to contact their doctor and make sure they have received the measles vaccination to protect themselves and others. The best way to protect yourself and others against this disease is to get vaccinated.”

The department encourages all Floridians who have not been immunized to get vaccinated immediately. Vaccinations are available through your local county health department or doctor’s office for little to no cost.

Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing and is highly contagious. When that person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air. 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 mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. 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.

Measles is very rare in countries and regions of the world that are able to keep vaccination coverage high. There are still sporadic cases of measles in the United States because visitors from other countries or U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become infected before or during travel and spread the infection to unvaccinated or unprotected persons.

Children should be immunized against measles with the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) vaccine. 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. Adolescents and adults may require two doses of MMR, people with underlying health conditions should discuss additional booster doses with their health care provider to determine need.