Hartford, CT – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) on Friday said it has confirmed a case of measles in a Fairfield County child. The child, who was not yet vaccinated against measles, acquired the infection while traveling internationally. DPH is collaborating with local partners to identify contacts and implement appropriate control measures.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can spread quickly among unvaccinated people. However, the majority of people exposed to measles are not at-risk of developing the disease since most people have either been vaccinated or have had measles in the past, before vaccination became routine.
“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.”
While most people have had the measles vaccination, it’s important for people to know their vaccination status and to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles so they can get medical attention if needed.
Symptoms of measles generally begin 7-14 days after exposure to an infected person. A typical case of measles begins with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), 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 the 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.
The rash typically lasts at least a few days and then disappears in the same order. People with measles may be contagious up to 4 days before the rash appears and for four days after the rash appears.
Most Connecticut residents have received this highly effective vaccine. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective. 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. Exposed individuals who are not vaccinated against measles must stay out of school, or other high-risk settings, for a full 21 days after their last known exposure.
CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12- through 15-months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.
Adults should have at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Certain groups need two doses of MMR, including: college students, health care workers, international travelers, and persons at high risk for measles complications. Adults born in the U.S. before 1957 are considered immune to measles 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.
International travelers should be up-to-date on their vaccinations. Most cases of measles are acquired or linked to international travel. Most people who are diagnosed as having measles are not vaccinated or did not know their vaccination status. As of March 5, 2021, there have been no measles cases reported in the U.S. From January 1 to December 31, 2020, 13 individual cases of measles were confirmed in the U.S.
Measles is very easily spread from person to person. If you have a fever and a rash and you think you might have measles, you should avoid public settings and telephone your healthcare provider BEFORE going directly to a healthcare facility so steps can be taken to avoid possibly exposing others.
For more information about measles, please visit www.cdc.gov/measles.