Measles exposure at US hospital

Measles warning sign

A US-based hospital has warned that 200 people may have been exposed to the measles virus after a seven-year-old girl with the illness visited its emergency department.

In a statement, Dean A. Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, said that the patient was treated at UC Davis Medical Centre in California on 17 March, and that the hospital ‘took appropriate measures in the areas the patient had visited’.

As a precautionary measure, the hospital sent out letters to patients and other hospital visitors. “In an abundance of caution, we’ve notified the 200 or so patients who we know may have been in the vicinity,” Blumberg said.

The measles patient was an unvaccinated child who became infected after returning from international travel, said the Calaveras Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Division.

It can be difficult to contain measles, due to the fact that people can have it for days without being aware, during which time they can come into contact with others and potentially spread the infection. “Most cases of measles occur eight to 12 days after exposure, but it can occur up to three weeks after exposure,” said Blumberg. “Even vaccinated individuals can get measles because the vaccine is not 100-per-cent perfect. We need a very high vaccination rate because when measles is introduced to communities that have parents who don’t immunise their children, these clusters of cases can occur.”

This reiterates the importance of vaccination to protect those around us, particularly the vulnerable members of society. Hesitance and obstinate behaviour have led directly to an increase in measles cases; vaccination is key.