San Diego, California - A person recently diagnosed with measles may have exposed others at Branch Health Clinic Miramar on February 14 and 18 and at Naval Medical Center San Diego on February 17, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced.
The ill person contracted measles after a recent trip to the Philippines and was treated at naval medical facilities. Patients, visitors and hospital staff may have been exposed to the virus if they were present at the Branch Health Clinic Miramar on Feb. 14 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. or Feb. 18 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. or the hospital emergency department or waiting room on Feb. 17 between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
HHSA and Navy public health officials are contacting individuals who were registered patients at both locations during the exposure periods to determine if they have been vaccinated. People who have not been vaccinated, or who have not had measles, should contact their doctors within one week of the date of exposure for evaluation and preventive treatment if appropriate. Those who are without a health provider can contact the HHSA Epidemiology Branch at (619) 692-8499.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread easily by coughing, sneezing or coming in contact with an infected person,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Anyone who was at either of these specific locations should watch for symptoms and contact their health care provider by telephone first, if they show any signs of the disease.”
People with symptoms are asked to telephone the provider in advance, rather than visit an office directly, so that infection control measures may be implemented to prevent exposure to others.
Measles develop seven to 21 days after exposure. Early symptoms include cough, runny nose and red eyes. The distinctive red rash usually appears one to four days after early symptoms appear. A person is considered contagious four days before the rash appears. The rash begins on the face and head then proceeds downward and outward to the hands and feet. It fades in the same order it began, from head to feet.
“Measles is spread through the air and is very infectious to persons who are not vaccinated, including infants under the age of 12 months who are too young to receive the first dose,” said Wooten. “The best way to prevent measles is by getting the measles vaccine.”
All persons born in 1957 or after should have documentation of at least one dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine or other evidence of immunity to measles. The CDC recommends two doses of the vaccine: the first at 12 months of age, and the second between ages 4 - 6 years.
Complications from measles are more common in children younger than 5 years old and adults 20 years and older. Complications can include diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. Death can occur from severe complications and the risk is higher among younger children and adults. There is no treatment for measles. Bed rest, fluids and fever control are recommended. People with complications may need treatment for their specific problem.
The California Department of Public Health has reported 15 cases of measles diagnosed in the state so far in 2014. This is the first case diagnosed in San Diego since July 2013. There is an ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines where over 1,700 cases and 21 deaths were noted in 2013.
For more information about measles, other vaccine-preventable diseases and the shots that protect against them, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit the website at www.sdiz.org.