Monday afternoon, the Grant County Health Department received a report of a confirmed measles case in an adult in the eastern side of the county.
According to County Health Director Jeff Kindrai, it has not been determined just where the individual contracted the illness, although an initial review may have placed the origin outside the county, and possibly outside of the state.
Kindrai would not say which community the patient who had the measles, due to privacy concerns, but said that person had limited exposure to people when he may have been infectious, and the health department had contacted those individuals that may have been exposed.
“We feel we have gotten ahold of anyone who had been in contact with this person,” Kindrai said.
In addition, the health department will continue enhanced surveillance through at least mid-March of 2014. Therefore, individuals and health care providers are being asked to have heightened awareness as to the possibility of additional measles cases our area.
Measles is caused by a virus and illness from measles normally consists of a generalized rash lasting 4-7 days and fever, with a cough, or nasal symptoms, and/or red watery eyes. Measles illness can be severe and can result in several different complications. However, severe illness occurs more often in infants and adults than in children. In rare instances (mainly developing countries), blindness and death can result. Symptoms generally start 7 to 18 days after exposure.
Since measles is highly infectious, Kindrai states that anyone who thinks they may be infected should go see their doctor, but they should call ahead of the potential of measles so their healthcare provider can make arrangements to limit any additional spreading of the illness.
If someone feels they may have measles it is best to call your provider in advance so that exposures to others can be limited or prevented. For further information about measles or immunizations, contact the Grant County Health Department at (608) 723-6416 or visit http://www.co.grant.wi.gov.
Measles outbreaks have become more frequent in the United States in recent years, and Kindrai pointed to the reduction of immunizations as one of the possible reasons. In recent years, more and more parents have elected not have their children vaccinated for many reasons.
In the case of measles, that lack of immunization can increase the chances of being affected if that non-immunized person comes in contact with an illness like measles or pertussis. Measles vaccines are often given twice when a person is young - the first immunization takes place when a person is between 12 and 15 months old, with a second vaccine given at between 4-6 years of age.
Kindrai noted that first vaccine gives a person a 95 percent immunity, while the second does makes the person virtually immune.
Nationwide, two percent of citizens have not been immunized. In Wisconsin, the number is four percent, and in some sections of the state its even higher.
Kindrai said when there is a reduction of immunization in a community, it allows an illness to spread.
“We encourage for people to be up to date on their vaccinations,” Kindrai said.
For many who were born before 1957, they may have already had the illness as a child, and would have inherent immunity from that brush with the illness.
Kindrai said that if the health department contacts a resident about their possible exposure to an illness, he hopes those individuals take the information given, as that will help reduce the possibility of spreading.