Possible measles exposure reported in Dauphin County; What you need to know

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Health officials are warning the public of a potential exposure case of measles in Dauphin County.

According to a Department of Health news release, a person who likely has measles may have exposed other people to the disease on the following dates at these  Pennsylvania locations and times:

  • Kohl’s, 5125 Jonestown Rd., Harrisburg: Saturday, May 24, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Holy Name of Jesus Parish, 6150 Allentown Boulevard, Harrisburg: Sunday, May 25, Noon service
  • Harrisburg International Airport, 1 Terminal Dr., Middletown: Monday, May 26, 4 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Infants under one year of age, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to catching this airborne virus. Those who have not received two doses of the measles vaccine are also at risk.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus, . Symptoms will begin one to two weeks after exposure and include a runny nose, watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash starts to spread on the face, down the body and out to the arms and legs. The rash usually lasts four to seven days.

An individual with measles can spread the virus to others for four days before and four days after the rash begins. It is spread by sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.

Complications from measles can include ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

The MMR vaccine can help prevent infection if it is given within three days of exposure. If it has been more than three days since your exposure, a dose of immune globulin can provide protection up to six days after exposure.

There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health urges all residents to be vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12 to 15 months of age, and a second dose is required for all Pennsylvania school children. However, individuals who have received only one dose of the vaccine, instead of the recommended two doses, may still be at risk of infection with this virus.

If you or your children are at risk for measles, and become ill with the symptoms one to two weeks after possible exposure, contact your healthcare provider to share that you’ve been exposed so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else.

If you are a healthcare provider who suspects measles, please call 1-877-PA-HEALTH for consultation and to arrange testing.

If you are not immune to measles and want to receive MMR or immune globulin, ask your healthcare provider or contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

For more information about measles, see the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website at http://www.health.state.pa.us/pdf/epi/MeaslesFactSheet.pdf.