Tulare County confirms first measles case since 2016

A vial of a blood sample that is infected with the Measles Virus (MeV).(Mauro Rodrigues / AdobeStock)

Public health officials confirm first measles case of 2024, marking the disease’s first occurrence in Tulare County since 2016

TULARE COUNTY – Tulare County reported its first measles case in eight years, sparking an urgent hunt for exposed individuals and vaccination checks to prevent an outbreak.

Public health officials in Tulare County have confirmed the first adult case of measles for 2024, according to a press release from Tulare County Health and Human Resource Agency (HHSA). The patient is a non-resident who received medical care in the county.

In response, health officials in the county are actively tracing potential exposures, checking vaccination statuses and assessing the risk of further spread. Unvaccinated individuals or those who have never contracted measles are at risk.

This marks the county’s first confirmed measles case since 2016, when an 18-month-old child was diagnosed. According to the release, as of May 23, there have been 142 measles cases reported in the U.S. this year, more than double the number reported in all of 2023.

According to the California Department of Public Health, nine measles cases have been confirmed in California as of May 25.

Public Health officials are actively working to identify and trace any potential exposures, determine if those exposed have been vaccinated for the disease, and evaluate their potential for developing and spreading measles. Anyone who has not been infected with measles in the past and has not been vaccinated for measles is at risk of contracting the disease.

The HHSA is also warning people about the symptoms of the illness as well as how to prevent the spread of the disease.

According to HHSA measles spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. The virus can stay in the air and on surfaces for many hours, even after the infected person has left. The infected person can spread the disease up to four days before a measles rash appears and up to four days after the rash appears.

If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses or mouths, they can become infected. Common symptoms for measles include: high fever (higher than 101° F), cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes and tiny white spots that may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin.

Another symptom is a rash three to five days after other signs of illness. The “measles rash” typically starts at the face and then spreads down to the rest of the body.

Complications from measles are more common in children younger than 5 and adults 20 years and older. These can include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia. Death can occur from severe complications, and the risk is higher among younger children and adults. There is no treatment for measles.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to measles or may be experiencing symptoms should call a healthcare provider immediately. Do not enter a healthcare facility without calling and making them aware of your measles exposure and symptoms before going to the facility.

Measles can be prevented with a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR or MMRV). The MMR vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. The MMRV vaccine protects against four diseases: measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). They are administered in two doses and are highly effective: two doses are 97% effective against measles and one dose is 93% effective. The spread of measles can be prevented if two-dose coverage of the vaccine remains at 95% or above in the community.

Most health insurances cover the cost of the MMR and MMRV vaccines. However, people should check with their doctor, health care provider or local pharmacy to see what vaccines are offered.

Please contact your health care provider for more information on measles or to confirm whether you have been vaccinated against measles. More information regarding measles is available at the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health.

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