In a follow-up to the report of the first measles case reported in Michigan in late March, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services today announced a second confirmed case of measles in the state.
This case is an adult and the direct result of an exposure to the state’s first case of the year in late March. The two individuals, who are not members of the same family or otherwise related, were both passengers on the same flight when the first individual was contagious.
“This underscores the importance of routine vaccination for both children and adults, and of making certain as many Michiganders as possible have protective immunity against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS. “Measles is highly contagious, and though it is generally a rare disease in the United States – in fact it was eliminated from the country in 2000 – it shows up every year as a result of travel to other parts of the world where it continues to be a common illness.”
Measles is a vaccine-preventable respiratory infection that can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. The illness initially presents with a high fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose, photophobia, and is followed by a red, raised body rash starting on the head and face that then progresses to the rest of the body. Individuals may be contagious for a few days before they present with symptoms, which increases the potential of exposing others to the infection.
Because measles is highly communicable, vaccination is the best line of defense, and successful prevention and control requires high levels of immunity in all communities. MDHHS continues to coordinate with local health departments in southeast Michigan to monitor any potential secondary cases in individuals who may have been exposed to the initial case. Individuals known to have been potentially exposed while the patient was receiving treatment are being contacted for follow up.
Last year, Michigan confirmed one case of measles. From 2001 – 2012, the average number of measles cases reported nationally per year was about 60. But in recent years there have been more, which is of great concern to public health authorities. In 2014, there were 667 cases in the U.S. including five cases in Michigan; the majority of people who got measles were not vaccinated.
The measles vaccine is highly effective and very safe. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of the vaccine. The first of two routine childhood measles vaccine doses is given at 12 months of age. For international travel, infants as young as 6 months should be vaccinated against measles. The vaccination, or documentation of immunity to measles, is recommended for all persons travelling internationally.