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Rhode Island Department of Health and Two Hospitals Responding to Potential Measles Exposures

The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is working with Rhode Island Hospital and Roger Williams Medical Center to notify patients who may have been exposed to a person with measles who was in both of these facilities last week.

The first potential exposure took place early in the morning of June 22 at the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Department, where a man presented with fever, fatigue, nausea, and aches. Later that day, he presented to the Emergency Department at Roger Williams Medical Center with continuing fever. He was admitted, and during his stay he developed a high-grade fever and rash. On June 25, he was discharged to home isolation. On June 27, the diagnosis of measles was confirmed by laboratory tests.

This individual does have a history of vaccination against measles.

HEALTH is working with doctors at both hospitals to ensure that people who were potentially exposed to the patient are contacted. Hospital staff at Rhode Island Hospital and Roger Williams Medical Center are identifying patients from their records and calling individuals to assess their risk and make recommendations and arrangements for vaccination, if needed.

In addition, several individuals exposed to the patient in a household or community setting, prior to hospital admission, are being tracked by the Department of Health.

Locations and periods of potential exposure - Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Room Sunday, June 22nd, 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. - Roger Williams Medical Center Emergency Room Sunday, June 22nd from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Measles is a contagious respiratory disease that usually lasts a week or two. Most people recover without any problems. In rare cases complications, such as pneumonia and brain infections, can occur. The virus that causes measles lives in the nose and throat and is spread into the air when an infected person coughs or talks. Measles can stay in the air for up to two hours after the contagious person has left the room, and can cause infection when inhaled by a susceptible person.

Measles looks and feels like a cold at first. Cough, high fever, runny nose, and red, watery eyes are common. These symptoms start ten to fourteen days after exposure. A few days later, a red blotchy rash starts on the face, and then spreads to the rest of the body. People with measles are infectious for four days prior to the development of rash, and remain infectious until four days after the rash has developed.

Vaccination recommendations for persons with known exposure to measles: The best protection against measles for previously unvaccinated (susceptible) persons after exposure is vaccination as soon as possible (preferably within 3 days). Measles vaccine is included in the MMR vaccine. MMR cannot be given to infants younger than one year of age, pregnant women, and those who are immunocompromised. For these individuals, the alternative is another product called immune globulin, which can help protect against the measles if taken within a week of exposure.

Vaccination recommendations for the general public: The US is experiencing a resurgence of measles especially among unvaccinated persons. It is important to be protected by vaccination using the following guidance:

If a person was born in the United States before 1957, it is very likely that he or she is immune to measles. However, to increase the likelihood that a person is protected against measles, he or she should consider receiving a dose of MMR vaccine.

If a person was born in the United States in or after 1957, and there is no written documentation of having at least one dose of MMR or measles-containing vaccine or serologic evidence of immunity, one must receive a dose of vaccine as soon as possible. Two doses are required for college students, school age students and health care workers.

If a person was born outside of the United States (regardless of the year of their birth), and there is no documentation of having two doses of MMR or measles-containing vaccine, or serologic evidence of immunity, that person must receive a dose of vaccine as soon as possible.

A blood test showing you are protected against measles is considered evidence of immunity. However, having had the disease in the past alone is not evidence of immunity.

Should members of the public develop fever and rash illness in the next 2 weeks they should call their medical provider and/or the Department of Health at 222-2577 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; after hours 272-5952.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 06-30-2014

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