Health Department Investigating Measles Link

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department has been notified that a person who  visited Chattanooga on Wednesday, May 7, was diagnosed with measles and was likely contagious during their visit. The Health Department is following up with known direct contacts. No measles cases have been identified in Hamilton County. 

Because measles is highly infectious and may linger in the air for up to two hours, it is possible that a susceptible person could develop illness following an unrecognized exposure. People who develop symptoms are instructed to call their healthcare provider and public health prior to seeking medical care so that appropriate isolation precautions can be implemented. 

People who develop symptoms are instructed to remain at home and limit their contact with others. They should immediately call the Health Department (209-8190). They should also call their healthcare provider prior to seeking medical care so that appropriate isolation precautions can be implemented to minimize exposure to others. 

Measles begins with a fever, red weepy eyes, runny nose, and cough. Small bluish-white spots with red bases may be found in the mouth. The rash develops on day 3-7 of illness, beginning on the face and spreading downward. Complications can include bacterial superinfections or encephalitis. 

Persons with measles are contagious up to five days before rash onset and up to four days after the rash starts. The incubation period of illness is 8-12 days: rash may develop up to 18 days after exposure to an infectious case. 

Vaccination with two doses of MMR vaccine is extremely effective. Persons with a history of one 

dose of vaccine if exposed have about a 5-10 percent chance of becoming ill, though illness might be milder. Anyone who has had measles illness or is age-appropriately immunized is generally considered immune.  However, it is easily transmissible to susceptible people, including infants younger than age one year, who are too young to be vaccinated. Post-exposure vaccination may prevent illness in susceptible persons if administered within 72 hours of exposure. Persons age 6 months and up who plan to travel outside the U.S. and lack a history of two doses of MMR vaccine, or history of having the disease, should be vaccinated prior to travel to prevent infection. With the exception of women who might become pregnant and persons who work in medical facilities, birth before 1957 generally can be considered acceptable evidence of immunity to measles. 

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