BALTIMORE — A second case of measles for a state resident has been confirmed by the Maryland Department of Health.
“The second case is a household contact of the first confirmed case, and both acquired measles outside of Maryland in an area with an ongoing measles outbreak,” a statement from the Department of Health said. “There is no evidence of ongoing spread of measles in Maryland currently. No additional potential measles exposure locations in Maryland have been identified.”
The department had previously warned residents of potential exposure for those who visited an area of Pikesville on April 2, where the first confirmed case was found.
Concerns about the spread of the very contagious disease prompted action from some local groups and agencies. LifeBridge Health implemented a policy banning visitors younger than 14 years old. The Baltimore City health Department partnered with Sinai Hospital and the local Orthodox Jewish community for a free measles vaccine clinic, in the hopes people would get inoculated prior to potential travel for Passover. Confirmed measles cases have been found in areas with large Orthodox populations, like Brooklyn, N.Y., where a public health emergency was recently declared.
Early symptoms of measles develop 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and include high fever, runny nose, cough, and red, watery eyes. Typically one to four days before those symptoms appear, a red rash will show up on an infected person’s face, spreading to the rest of the body. People are contagious days before any symptoms begin showing. The disease can be transmitted through the air, and the virus can remain stable on surfaces for hours after an infected person has left the space. Infants, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of the disease.
With the ubiquity of immunization, diseases like measles largely faded from the population, but as the urgency over vaccinating children has lessened, particularly with the out-sized voice of the anti-vaccine community who erroneously link the shots like the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism, a theory that has been repeatedly disproven by science and was based on a faulty study originally, vaccination rates dipped.
The Center for Disease Control recommends children receive the MMR vaccine in two doses, the first when the child is 12 to 15 months old, the second when the child is 4 to 6 years old. Teens and adults should make sure they are up to date on their MMR vaccine and any needed boosters. The two doses of the vaccine are 97 percent effective in preventing measles, while just one dose is 93 percent effective, the health department said.
The Maryland Department of Health and the Baltimore County will provide 1,200 doses of the MMR vaccine to those in need at a vaccination clinic held April 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Bais Yaakov School for Girls at 6302 Smith Avenue in Baltimore. More information about measles can be found on the Department of Health’s website.