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Health department concerned about spread of measles

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:20 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2014


The state is concerned about the spread of measles after an Oahu infant contracted the highly contagious disease in the Philippines, and was infectious while traveling back to Honolulu and during visits to receive medical treatment.

The state Department of Health said Thursday afternoon that the child, who was not old enough to receive a vaccination against measles, is hospitalized and recovering.

"We are very concerned about the potential for additional cases of measles," said Dr. Sarah Y. Park, state epidemiologist.  "This disease is so contagious that it will infect 90 percent of the contacts who are not immune.  We urge people who suspect they have measles, that is, fever and widespread rash, to call their doctor right away and isolate themselves from others to help contain the spread of illness." 

The health department said measles is spread by "direct contact with mucus from the nose and throat of an infected person and through the air by respiratory droplets," and is a risk to anyone who hasn't been vaccinated.

Complications of measles are pneumonia, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), ear infections, diarrhea, and death, the health department said. Children younger than a year old, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system are most vulnerable.

The family flew back to Honolulu from the Philippines, with a stopover in Guam, on Feb. 2, Park said. The CDC is contacting travelers and hospital emergency room patients who may have come into contact with the patient.

According to the health department, the symptoms of measles generally begin about 14 days (range 7 to 21 days) after a person is infected and may include: 

»  Blotchy red rash
»  Fever
»  Cough
»  Runny nose
»  Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
»  Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
»  Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik's spots--not always present) 

 "We are encouraging everyone to check their immunization status and contact their healthcare provider if they need to be vaccinated," said Ronald Balajadia, immunization branch chief.  

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf

Those with health insurance can call Aloha United Way 2-1-1 for assistance.

For more information, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/home/imm/






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