An outbreak of measles in Utah began with a case in an unvaccinated Utah resident returning from Poland. Nine cases of measles were reported before the outbreak was declared over. The Utah Department of Health notified the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that four Idahoans were exposed to people who had measles and were contagious at the time. One Idahoan was a resident of Eastern Idaho Public Health District and three resided in South Central Health District.
Why is this Important for Our Health?
Measles is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Many older people recall having measles as a child and do not think it is a severe illness, but measles can be fatal. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. Measles is highly contagious. The measles virus is spread by droplets of respiratory secretions when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Measles also can be spread through the air. Persons have acquired measles from being in a closed room 2 hours after a person with measles was in the room. Prompt recognition, reporting, and investigation of measles can limit the spread of disease through isolation of persons with measles and vaccination of susceptible persons who came in contact with the ill person.
What Health Care Providers Did
An infection control practitioner at a hospital reported a suspected case of measles to the Utah Department of Health. Health care providers tested the patient for measles to confirm the diagnosis.
What Public Health Districts Did
The Eastern Idaho Public Health District contacted the eastern Idaho resident, who was exposed in a hospital setting, and learned that she was pregnant and her husband had accompanied her to the hospital. Eastern Idaho Public Health District checked the vaccination status of both individuals and found that they had been vaccinated previously with a measles, mumps, and rubella-containing vaccine (MMR) and should be immune.
South Central Health District contacted the southcentral Idaho residents, who were exposed at a religious event. Two exposed children less than five years old had never received MMR. South Central Health District recommended that the children stay home and the parents monitor and report any signs of illness during the incubation period. Unimmunized family members intended to obtain vaccination with MMR to provide immunity if exposure to measles occurred in the future.
What the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Did
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare informed public health districts about residents who were exposed to measles, provided consultation on control measures, and monitored for measles cases statewide. No cases were reported in Idaho. IDHW published an article in the Idaho Disease Bulletin which informed clinicians about the exposures and gave them recommendations for counseling potential overseas travelers, information on which countries were experiencing measles outbreaks, and recommendations for prevention of measles in healthcare facilities.