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Health department concerned about spread of measles

By Star-Advertiser staff

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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GooglyMoogly wrote:
And if you're thinking about escaping to the West Coast for a while, I present:


on February 13,2014 | 02:37PM
hanoz808 wrote:
OMG and thank you for that site....SA should be forwarding that link too. It's a scary situation
on February 13,2014 | 02:57PM
nssanes wrote:
This is why smart people vaccinate their children.
on February 13,2014 | 02:39PM
Kingbudd wrote:
Or maybe not taking your "infant" to a third world country like the Philippines...
on February 13,2014 | 02:52PM
HIE wrote:
This is also why smart governments try to provide affordable healthcare to all citizens....
on February 13,2014 | 02:52PM
Hawaiiobserver wrote:
The fear of vaccination was spread by a doctor in Europe..moms need to check their source of why vaccination is supposedly dangerous. Better to vaccinate, than to take a chance of getting these deadly diseases...especially living in Hawaii, where there's a high influx of Asian/mainland visitors. Our pediatrician said that one of his patients, at 7 years old, just died after he caught the whooping cough. His grandparents had the whooping cough, but it didn't manifest badily. It just seemed like a regular cough to them, with a runny nose. Little did they know, it was the whooping cough. Please vaccinate your children for their own protection!
on February 13,2014 | 03:43PM
ellinaskyrt wrote:

I am so glad to see that the comments so far are pro-vaccination. Vaccination not only protects the individual who is vaccinated, but through herd immunity, when a community is nearly completely vaccinated, that community also protects those few who are not vaccinated (like those who are too young to get the vaccination).

Given that MMR vaccination is recommended at 1 year of age and the article describes the infected patient as an infant, the patient probably was too young to get the vaccine. However, I can't help but wonder how wise it was to take a child too young to have received all its vaccinations to a country like the Philippines where vaccination isn't anywhere near as common as it is in the US.

on February 13,2014 | 04:14PM
SteveToo wrote:
Stay away from me. NEver had them as a kid. Had German Measles.
on February 13,2014 | 08:50PM
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