The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has confirmed Michigan’s first measles case of 2015. Michigan is now one of seven states reporting the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The case involves an adult in Oakland County, and may be associated with the recent Disneyland outbreak in California, but an exact connection has not yet been determined.
“As we are seeing with the recent outbreak in California, measles is a highly communicable disease that can affect both children and adults,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “The best way to protect our families and communities against measles is to get vaccinated.”
Measles is a vaccine-preventable respiratory infection that can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. The illness initially presents with a high fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose, photophobia, and is followed by a red, raised body rash starting on the head and face that then progresses to the rest of the body. Because measles is highly communicable, vaccination is the best line of defense, and successful prevention and control requires high levels of immunity in all communities.
MDCH continues to coordinate with local health departments to monitor any potential secondary cases in individuals who may have been exposed to the initial case in Oakland County. Individuals may be contagious for a few days before they present with symptoms, which increases the potential of exposing others to the infection.
Last year, there were a total of five measles cases in Michigan. From 2001 – 2012, the average number of measles cases reported nationally per year was about 60. According to the CDC, last year there were 644 cases in the United States, and the vast majority of cases were among persons who had no history of vaccination against measles. There have been more than 50 cases reported nationally so far in 2015.
The measles vaccine is highly effective and very safe. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of the vaccine. The first of two routine childhood measles vaccine doses is given at 12 months of age. For international travel, infants as young as 6 months should be vaccinated against measles. The vaccination, or documentation of immunity to measles, is recommended for all persons travelling internationally.