Getting vaccinated can help stop measles from spreading
Update: A Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesman confirmed Friday that the possible case of measles reported in Boalsburg tested negative for the virus.
A possible case of measles was reported Thursday by Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics in Boalsburg to the state Department of Health, spokesperson Anissa Ilie confirmed.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics location at Mount Nittany Health — Boalsburg immediately reported a possible case of measles to the Pennsylvania Department of Health this morning and followed all DOH guidelines to ensure the safety of patients and staff,” she said. “Our first priority is to protect the health of our patients and the community.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 555 individual cases of measles in 20 states from the start of this year to April 11 — the second-largest outbreak of the viral infection in the U.S. since it was largely eliminated in 2000.
As of Thursday, there has not yet been any confirmed measles cases in Pennsylvania, Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle said.
“If there are any potential cases, a sample would be sent to our state lab for testing,” he said. “If those results come back positive, information would be provided to ensure anyone who may have come into contact with the patient is aware, and to protect public health.”
The Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics office remained open Thursday and business continued as usual, Ilie said, but patients were called and given the option to reschedule appointments, out of caution.
Measles is a “highly contagious” virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, according to the CDC. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing, and can live for up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed.
Symptoms, which generally appear about one to two weeks after a person is infected, begin with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the CDC. Tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth two or three days after symptoms begin, and a full-body rash three to five days later.
Infected people can spread the measles from four days before to four days after the rash appears.
“Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected,” according to the CDC’s measles page.
Measles can be prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, the CDC says. The CDC typically recommends children receive two doses of the vaccine, one from age 12-15 months, and another from 4 to 6 years old.
The CDC published recommendations in 2018 for a third dose to be administered to people at a higher risk for measles, mumps or rubella, such as those in a close-contact setting, like a college campus.
As measles is spreading across the country, college campuses have been dealing with mumps.
As of April 11, Penn State University Health Services had confirmed three mumps cases since the beginning of the month, with two more cases suspected. Temple University has had more than 100 confirmed or probable mumps cases since late February, and Indiana University has had 16 reported cases since Feb. 12 — most linked to a single fraternity.
“UHS is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to monitor the situation,” a release from Penn State said. “Close contacts of mumps cases are being identified and recommended to receive a third dose of the MMR vaccine.”