Allegheny Co. Health Dept. issues 2nd measles warning this year

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PITTSBURGH - The Allegheny County Health Department is investigating exposures to an Allegheny County resident diagnosed with measles and urging self-reporting by individuals who may have been exposed to the case.

“We believe the person became infectious around May 1,” said Dr. Karen Hacker of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Officials said the case is extremely rare because the person who became infected had not traveled out of the country.

Contacts in the person’s workplace and health care settings are being notified and efforts are underway to find others.  Additional exposures to the case may have occurred at the following places and times:

● Blair Auto Sales, 132 Coxcomb Hill, New Kensington, April 30, from noon to 6 p.m.

● Tomasino’s Restaurant, 260 Little Deer Creek Road, Indiana Township, April 30, from 4 to 9 p.m.

● Advanced Auto Parts, 2407 Freeport Road, Harmar, April 30, from 6 to 9 p.m.

While most people are not at risk because they have been immunized or have had measles, the following groups of individuals are susceptible to becoming infected with measles:

● Anyone born since 1957 who has not received two doses of effective measles vaccine known as MMR, which would include infants too young to have been immunized; persons who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been re-vaccinated; and those who refused vaccination.

● Persons whose immune systems are compromised due to disease or medication.

The Health Department is recommending the following advice to anyone who visited the above locations at the indicated times:

● If you are susceptible to measles and become ill with symptoms of measles between now and May 21, contact your primary care provider immediately and tell him or her that you may have been exposed to measles. Do not go directly to the office, urgent care center or emergency room, as this may expose other persons.  Pregnant women should contact their doctor about their immune status.

Health care providers who suspect measles should call the Health Department at 412-687-ACHD (2243) for consultation and to arrange testing.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms begin 7 to 21 days after exposure and include a runny nose, red and watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash begins on the face and spreads downward to neck, trunk and extremities. 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 infected droplets during sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected droplets and secretions can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

Complications from measles can include ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12 to 15 months of age, and a second MMR vaccine 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 susceptible to the virus. Adults born during or after 1957 who have not had two doses of vaccine or documented disease should be vaccinated with one dose of MMR vaccine.  The MMR vaccine also can help prevent infection if it is given within three days of exposure.

The Health Department recommends that any person who is due for measles vaccination make arrangements to receive it from their medical provider.  Persons without health insurance may receive the vaccine at the Health Department’s immunization clinic at 3441 Forbes Avenue in Oakland. There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it.