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Measles case in Detroit confirmed, says health department

3D rendering of the measles virus
Centers for Disease Control

The Detroit Health Department has confirmed a case of measles in Detroit. The person is a resident of Detroit, and had recently returned from traveling overseas. 

The person went to the emergency department at Children’s Hospital of Michigan on July 16 between 12:30 and 9:30 p.m.

They also went to their physician’s office in Macomb County, Michigan, and everyone who was exposed at that location was directly informed.

Measles is highly infectious, and is spread through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. These symptoms usually appear a week or two after exposure and last for three to five days before the rash appears. The rash starts at the top of the head and spreads down the body, arms, and legs, and tends to last for four to seven days. 

Dr. Ruta Sharangpani is the acting medical director of the Detroit Health Department. She says vaccines are most effective in preventing measles.

“The vaccine can prevent disease if it's given within three days of exposure, which is why we say today (July 19), for this case, is the last day to actually do what we call post-exposure prophylaxis with vaccine, or with IG through Monday.” IG refers to immune globulin, which is an alternative to a vaccine, and should be administered within six days of exposure.

She says she recommends getting vaccinated well before there’s risk of exposure.

“Vaccinations, particularly for measles, are the best way to protect yourself, partly because measles is infectious during the time when people don’t realize they actually have measles. A cough and runny nose are pretty common symptoms that people can have and not realize it, but, that’s measles,” she explains. She says the vaccine is “extremely effective, 95% effective. We usually vaccinate kids at age one, and then give them a booster between four and six years of age before they go to kindergarten.” She says adults should also check their records to make sure they’ve been vaccinated.

Sharangpani says if you see symptoms of measles developing, call ahead to your physician or an emergency room so they can make the necessary arrangements to prevent exposure of the disease to other individuals.

Prior to this most recent case, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services had confirmed a total of 44 measles cases statewide. The outbreak began in March, and resulted in 40 cases of measles in Oakland County, one in Wayne County, and one in Detroit.

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