INDIANAPOLIS-Thirteen cases of measles have now been confirmed in northeastern Indiana, up from five cases last week. Twelve of the confirmed cases are in Noble County, and a new case is now in LaGrange County. State health officials are urging Hoosiers in northeastern Indiana to contact their health care provider to make sure their immunizations are up-to-date.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Measles transmission has been rare in the United States though the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, but it is still common in many parts of the world, including Europe. Visitors from other countries or U.S. citizens traveling abroad who are not vaccinated can become infected before or during travel.
The Indiana State Department of Health is continuing to work with local health departments and health care providers to identify additional cases of measles and to prevent further transmission of the disease.
"Vaccination is the best protection against measles," said Indiana State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. "Measles is highly contagious and complications from measles can be serious-even deadly. I strongly encourage residents of the northeastern counties to check their vaccination status with their physician so that this outbreak doesn't continue to spread."
More than 95 percent of people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to measles, and over 99 percent will be protected after receiving a second dose. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to be fully protected.
Local health departments in certain impacted counties will be offering the MMR vaccine at no cost to individuals who believe they may have been exposed to an infected person. MMR vaccine is also covered by most insurance plans, and all Indiana Medicaid programs. Individuals unsure about their vaccination history should ask their health care providers, as they have access to vaccination records for many Hoosiers through the Indiana Immunization Registry, or CHIRP.
Measles begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes approximately 7-10 days after exposure. The fever increases and can get as high as 105 degrees. Two to four days later, a rash develops on the face and upper neck and can spread down the back and trunk, extending to the arms and hands, as well as the legs and feet. After about five days, the rash fades in the same order in which it appeared. Measles is highly contagious. When infected persons sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air. Those droplets remain active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours.
What you can do
If you are experiencing the symptoms of measles, stay home and call your doctor. Be prepared to describe your symptoms and alert your doctor if you think you have been in contact with an infected person. If you are ill with measles, remain home and away from others, especially unvaccinated infants, people with diseases affecting their immune systems, and pregnant women.
Vaccination is the only way to ensure you are properly protected from measles, but following the "Three C's" is always a good idea to help prevent the spread of infectious respiratory diseases:
· Clean - properly wash your hands frequently;
· Cover - cover your cough and sneeze; and,
· Contain - contain your germs by staying home (or keep children at home from school) if experiencing symptoms.
For more information about measles, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/measles/.
For information on how to contact your local health department, please visit the Indiana State Department of Health at http://www.state.in.us/isdh/24822.htm.
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