Three states report new measles cases

Jun 8, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Vermont health officials said yesterday that they have confirmed the state's first measles case in 10 years, as new cases of the disease surfaced in Arizona and Utah.

The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) notified the state's health providers about the measles infection, which was identified in an unvaccinated individual in the southeastern part of the state, according to a press release. The patient had limited exposures, and investigators haven't identified any additional cases.

State health commissioner Harry Chen, MD, in the statement urged parents to vaccinate their children. "Every child in Vermont who is eligible should be vaccinated against measles to avoid illness and the very serious consequences that may occur with measles," he said.

Vermont has measles vaccination requirements for school children but is one of 16 states that allow parents to claim a philosophical exemption, according to the VDH, which said even though measles vaccination rates in Vermont children is 92%, that level may not be high enough to prevent the disease from spreading.

Meanwhile, health officials in Arizona's Coconino County in a Jun 3 statement warned that a woman whose measles infection was confirmed by the Arizona State Laboratory could have exposed others to the disease during her travel between May 19 and May 27.

The woman is from Italy, and several European countries are experiencing measles outbreaks. The Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) said she visited New York, California, Las Vegas, Coconino County, Monument Valley, and Bryce Canyon, Utah. Her travel in Coconino County included a visit to the Grand Canyon on May 23, Lake Powell on May 24, and a one-night stay in Page. On May 25 she departed for Utah.

Barbara Worgess, chief health officer for the CCPHSD, urged people with symptoms consistent with measles to call their healthcare providers.

In other developments, health officials from Utah's Bear River Health Department announced that it has confirmed three more measles cases, raising its total to four since May 31, the Deseret News, a newspaper based in Salt Lake City, reported yesterday. The area includes Logan, Utah, which is about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Jill Parker, a spokeswoman for the health department, said the three new cases are all close contacts of the first case, according to the news report. She added that health authorities are providing measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and are overseeing the isolation of the patients with confirmed infections to minimize the impact of the outbreak.

The first case, Cache County's first of the year, was a child who was exposed to measles some time in the middle of May, according to previous media reports. The confirmation of the first case prompted the Bear River Health Department to ask 15 people to self-quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease.

As of May 20, 118 measles cases have been reported this year in the United States, according to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the cases had links to international travel, especially to Europe.

See also:

Jun 7 VDH press release

Jun 3 CCPHSD press release

Jun 7 Deseret News story

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