On Wednesday, April 13, a primary care provider notified the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) of a suspected case of measles. The patient, a woman in her 20s, is from Europe. She arrived in New York on Tuesday and traveled by car to Rhode Island. After seeking treatment for symptoms of fever and rash, an astute physician notified HEALTH about a potential case of measles. The diagnosis was rapidly confirmed by serologic testing.
On Thursday, HEALTH immediately notified neighboring states and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC will work with airport officials to identify and notify passengers who were on the same flight as the woman. Because of the early detection of the case, control measures were put in place immediately. The patient was isolated on a voluntary basis and has been extremely cooperative. HEALTH is ensuring that people who may have been exposed to measles is receiving a dose of measles-containing vaccine within the recommended 72 hours of exposure.
“Although measles can be a very serious disease, the quick response by the physician and by HEALTH staff prevented this from spreading,” said Interim Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. “Because we got lab results so quickly, we are still within the timeframe where measles vaccine is recommended. This also serves as a reminder that everyone – children and adults – should be up to date on all recommended vaccinations.”
Measles is a highly-contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. The symptoms usually begin about 7-14 days after a person is infected, and include blotchy red rash, fever, cough, runny nose, red/watery eyes, aches, and small white spots in the mouth. The disease can be prevented by the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Because routine MMR vaccination of children is required in the United States, measles is considered to be eradicated here. Measles remains common in many places worldwide.