SLO County infant contracts measles

January 20, 2017

measlesAn infant contracted measles after coming in contact with the first person in San Luis Obispo County to recently contract the virus, public health officials have announced.

Last week, SLO County Public Health officials announced a local adult who was not vaccinated against measles contracted the disease. The adult patient came in contact with international travelers over the holidays and began displaying symptoms of measles on Jan. 3. The patient waited to go to the hospital until Jan. 8 and then checked in at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton.

It is unclear when the baby began showing measles symptoms. Both the initial patient and the infant are currently quarantined.

Public health officials have also quarantined several people who had contact with the initial patient. The adult and the baby are the only two confirmed current cases of measles in SLO County.

The infant who contracted measles was too young for the vaccination. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols state children should get their first of two doses of the measles vaccine when they are 12 to 15 months old.

“This second case of measles highlights the importance of vaccination to protect our most vulnerable community members,” said San Luis Obispo County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Christy Mulkerin. “By vaccinating ourselves and our families, we protect those in the community who cannot vaccinate due to age or medical condition.”

Measles spreads through coughing or sneezing. Measles symptoms generally appear seven to 14 days after a person is infected.

The infected person typically develops a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Two or three days later, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. A rash consisting of tiny, red spots then breaks out. The rash starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles patients are typically contagious for about nine days, including the four days prior to the rash breaking out.

The measles virus can cause serious complications, especially for young children. Measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis — swelling of the brain — and death.

It is not very common for United States residents to contract the virus because most people in the country are vaccinated. But, measles is still common everywhere else in the world, including in many countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Every year, unvaccinated Americans contract measles while abroad, and they bring the disease into the United States, where it spreads to others.

Public health officials say it is very important for people to be up to date on vaccinations, particularly before traveling abroad. Those who have had measles in the past or who have been vaccinated against the disease are considered immune by CDC standards.