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February 7, 2017

Health Officials Confirm Measles Case in Salt Lake County

Pam Davenport - Email

(Salt Lake County)—Public health officials from the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) are investigating a case of measles in a Salt Lake County resident who traveled outside of the U.S. The case has received all appropriate vaccinations. This is the first confirmed case of the disease in Salt Lake County since 2011.

Individuals in Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties who may have had contact with the infected resident have been notified by their respective local health departments and encouraged to receive any necessary vaccinations. The general public is at minimal risk of being exposed by this person.

Symptoms of measles include a fever of 101°F or higher, cough, runny nose and a rash that spreads to cover the body. The rash usually occurs within two weeks of exposure. The virus is transmitted by respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, and is so contagious that over 90 percent of people in close contact with an infectious person will get the disease if they’re not immunized. Other complications potentially can include ear infections, pneumonia and miscarriage. Although it is rare, measles is still a potentially deadly disease.

If you develop symptoms, call your healthcare provider and let them know you may have the measles. It is important that you do not visit a physician’s office, emergency room, lab or any medical clinic without first calling the facility and informing them of your exposure to measles. This will enable the facility to take the necessary precautions to protect other individuals from possible exposure.

While over 90 percent of children in Utah schools and childcare facilities are adequately vaccinated, there are still children who are not protected,” Dr. Dagmar Vitek, SLCoHD medical director said. “And while measles is not widespread in the U.S., cases can occur when unvaccinated—and in rare cases like this one, vaccinated – people visit other countries where measles is more prevalent. Once an infected person comes into a community, it quickly spreads to those who have not been vaccinated.”

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. Children should get two doses of the vaccine and adults who may not have been immunized should contact their doctor to see if they need the vaccine. It is especially important for pregnant women, infants and people with weakened immune systems to be protected as these individuals may develop more severe illness. Measles vaccine, which has been commonly used for more than 50 years, can safely and effectively prevent this disease.

"Being fully vaccinated against measles does more than just protect the person who receives the vaccination,” explained Dr. Vitek. “It also protects their family and friends, including children who may be too young to be vaccinated and helps to limit the spread of disease in the community.”