Md Dept. of Health says it’s monitoring the situation.
Baltimore, Md (KM) The United States is on the verge of surpassing the number of measles cases each year since 2000, when the virus was declared eliminated. That’s according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which says that so far, there are 626 cases of the disease in 22 states across the country, including four in Maryland.
Dr. Monique Duwell, the Chief of the Center for Infectious Surveillance and Outbreak Response with the Maryland Department of Health, says these four cases have been confined to one geographic area in the state. “We’re monitoring very closely, trying to insure that we minimize and prevent any additional cases,” she says. “But because of how contagious the virus is, we are on high alert for any additional cases, and are taking steps to prevent cases.”
The Department of Health says the measles cases in Maryland have been localized to an area within the zip codes of 21208, 21209 and 21215. The agency says anyone who has visited 4000 Old Court Road In Pikesville on Tuesday, April 16th from 9:15 am until 12:30 pm may have been exposed to the measles.
Dr. Duwell says measles is an airborne virus. “typically transmitted by respiratory droplets from someone coughing or sneezing,:” she says. “The measles virus can actually stay in the air for up to two hours after someone with measles has been in that room.”
And measles can have long term consequences if left untreated. “Measles is a very serious infection. So for some people, there are no complications. But for others, there can be very serious complications, impacting the brain and the lungs, and some for some people, unfortunately, measles can be deadly,” says Dr. Duwell.
Those who are most at risk from the complications of measles include pregnant women, infants less than a year old and those who are immune compromised, the Department of Health says.
She says it’s important for residents who have not been vaccinated against the measles to get their shots, and make sure their children are vaccinated. “The measles vaccine is very safe and very effective. One dose is considered 93% effective, and two doses is considered 97% effective,:” Dr Duwell says.
Individuals can get the vaccine from their doctors, or their local pharmacists.
The symptoms for measles are a fever of more than 101-degrees, a runny nose, coughing and red, watery eyes. Within one to four days, a rash will develop on the face, and then spread to the rest of the body, the Health Department says.
If you feel you have measles, Dr. Duwell says contact your physician immediately. :”Anyone who has symptoms of measles and is concerned they might have been exposed to measles, we ask that you please call before you go into a health care facility so you can alert them to the possibility of measles so the hospital, the doctor’s office can take steps to protect other patients,” she says.
For more information on measles, visit the Maryland Department of Health website, https://health.maryland.gov/measles.
By Kevin McManus