Fairfield County Child Contracts Measles: DPH

NBC 5 News

The CT Department of Public Health announced Friday that a case of measles has been reported in a child in Fairfield County.

The child was not yet vaccinated against measles and they were infected while traveling internationally, DPH officials said.

Officials warn that measles is a highly contagious disease that can spread quickly among people who are unvaccinated. However, DPH said the majority of people exposed to the virus are not at risk because they have either been vaccinated in the past or have had measles before vaccination became routine.

One dose of the measles vaccine is approximately 93% effective at preventing the virus if exposed and two doses are about 97% effective.

DPH officials said two doses of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine are required to attend schools and colleges in Connecticut. However, students with medical or religious exemptions may attend school without being vaccinated.

Adults should have at least one dose of the measles vaccine. Certain groups need two doses of MMR, including: college students, health care workers, international travelers and persons at high risk for measles complications, according to officials.

Adults born in the United States before 1957 are considered immune to the virus from past exposures, but in situations where exposure to measles is likely, these adults may benefit from a dose of MMR vaccine to be safer, DPH said.

Measles symptoms generally begin seven to 14 days after exposure. If infected, a typical case will begin with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. Three to five days after the start of these symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears, usually starting on a person’s face at their hairline and spreading downward to the entire body. At the time the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, according to officials.

The rash typically lasts at least a few days and then disappears in the same order. People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after the rash appears.

“The single best way to protect yourself and your children from measles is to be vaccinated,” said DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has been happening, some children have fallen behind on their immunizations. This measles case is an important reminder that these vaccine-preventable diseases still pose a threat and that we must protect children through on-time vaccination.”

Exposed individuals who are not vaccinated against measles are advised to stay out of school, or other high-risk settings, for a full 21 days after their last known exposure, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

The CDC recommends all children get two doses of the MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12- through 15-months of age, and the second dose at four through six years of age.

DPH said they are collaborating with local partners to identify contacts and implement appropriate control measures.

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