Measles Cases Increase; Urge Patients and Health Care Workers Get Vaccinated

On June 5, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) alerted the public and media to a case of potential exposure to measles in Dauphin County. To date, the department has confirmed three measles cases statewide.

In light of the recent alarm bells about a huge spike in confirmed cases of measles throughout the US – 288 as of May 30 – Pennsylvania physicians and their patients, in particular, should get vaccinated against this extremely infectious disease.

Since May, DOH has been urging all health care providers to maintain a high index of suspicion for measles  in patients with febrile rash illness, especially those with no history of measles vaccination or those who recently traveled to areas with known measles outbreaks

If measles is suspected, DOH says that providers should:

  • Immediately place the patient in airborne isolation and notify DOH or the local health department.
  • Advise infected individuals to remain in self-isolation until they are no longer infectious.
  • Advise potentially exposed individuals to remain in self-isolation until they provide documentation of immunity (born before 1957, prior measles infection, or two doses of MMR vaccine) or until 21 days have passed since their suspected exposure NOTE: Health care workers and others in “high-risk” professions are NOT considered immune to measles if they were born prior to 1957. These individuals must provide a documented history of two doses of MMR vaccine, physician diagnosed measles, or positive measles IgG by serology.
  • Obtain specimens for testing, including specimens for virus isolation and genotyping (blood, urine, and throat or nasopharyngeal swab).
  • Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 877-724-3258 or your local health department to facilitate consultation and assist with diagnosis, conduct contact tracing, and initiate transmission and outbreak control measures.

DOH urges all health care providers to ensure that their patients are vaccinated against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and also recommends that providers ensure and document measles immunity for all health care workers.

To make sure you are receiving the latest information from DOH, sign up to receive alerts through their PA Health Alert Network (PA-HAN).