HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Health has identified a confirmed case of measles that could have exposed other people while infectious.
The possible exposures could have occurred at two separate locations: Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, the department said in a news release Friday evening.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. Both facilities are working closely with the department to identify and protect anyone who might have come into contact with a patient and is not vaccinated, the department said.
According to the department, the measles vaccine is highly effective; however, the following groups of individuals are at risk of becoming infected with measles if they have contact with an infected individual:
· Infants less than one year of age who are too young to have received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine;
· Individuals who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been revaccinated;
· Individuals born after 1957 who have only received one dose of MMR vaccine;
· Individuals who refused vaccination; and
· Individuals from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or circulating measles.
Pocono Medical Center has identified potentially exposed individuals and is contacting them in conjunction with the department to confirm their vaccination status.
The patient was also treated at Geisinger Medical Center, 100 N. Academy Drive, Danville, on April 23. Individuals who were at the Foss Clinic from 1 to 6:30 p.m., in the areas of the main entrance, the sixth floor, the elevators and the outpatient lab may have been exposed. Additionally, individuals that rode the shuttle to and from the facility between the hours of 4:15 and 6:30 p.m. may have been exposed.
The department released these facts about measles:
• Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. 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 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 or your children are at risk for measles, and become ill with the symptoms one to two weeks after possible exposure, contact your healthcare provider to share that you’ve been exposed so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else, the department advises.
If you are a healthcare provider who suspects measles, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH for consultation and to arrange testing.
Most people in the United States are immune to measles, either because they received the MMR vaccine in childhood, or because they were exposed to measles in the pre-vaccine era.
If you are not immune to measles and want to receive MMR or immune globulin, ask your healthcare provider or contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.
For more information about measles, see the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website at http://www.health.state.pa.us/pdf/epi/MeaslesFactSheet.pdf.