Lo­cal of­fi­cials warn of measles ex­po­sure

The Washington Post Sunday - - COM­MUTER - — Perry Stein

The Mary­land Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a po­ten­tial measles out­break in por­tions of the Wash­ing­ton re­gion af­ter a pa­tient ad­mit­ted to Chil­dren’s Na­tional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in the District was di­ag­nosed with the po­ten­tially deadly and highly con­ta­gious virus.

The pa­tient was di­ag­nosed with measles on Fri­day but had been ren­dered med­i­cal aid in Mary­land, in­clud­ing at Prince Ge­orge’s Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter, in the days be­fore the di­ag­no­sis.

The Mary­land Depart­ment of Health, which is work­ing with the health de­part­ments in the District and Prince Ge­orge’s County, said it is in­form­ing peo­ple who were in cer­tain lo­ca­tions in the District and Mary­land about the di­ag­no­sis “out of an abun­dance of cau­tion.”

Most peo­ple in the United States are vac­ci­nated against measles, so the ex­po­sure is con­sid­ered a low risk. But for those who haven’t been vac­ci­nated, the virus is ex­tremely con­ta­gious, and 90 per­cent of peo­ple who are not im­mune can con­tract measles from be­ing near a sin­gle in­fected per­son. The virus can live on a sur­face or hang in the air for as long as two hours af­ter an in­fected per­son has coughed or sneezed.

“In­di­vid­u­als who are con­cerned about pos­si­ble ex­po­sure and vul­ner­a­bil­ity to measles should con­tact their pri­mary health care provider or lo­cal health depart­ment be­fore vis­it­ing a provider of­fice or health care fa­cil­ity,” the Mary­land Depart­ment of Health said in a state­ment. “Tak­ing th­ese steps re­duces the chances of po­ten­tially ex­pos­ing other peo­ple to measles.”

The in­fected pa­tient con­tracted measles out­side the United States and de­vel­oped symp­toms upon re­turn­ing, the depart­ment said. About the third to sev­enth day af­ter be­ing in­fected, a rash be­gins to ap­pear on the face that will spread to the rest of the body, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land health depart­ment. But it could take more than two weeks for some­one to de­velop symp­toms.

Be­tween May 8 and May 15, the pa­tient was in pub­lic spa­ces in Prince Ge­orge’s County and the District, in­clud­ing the Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices and So­cial Se­cu­rity build­ings in Hy­attsville. The measles pa­tient was also in the Prince Ge­orge’s Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter Emer­gency Depart­ment and on May 9 rode the No. 12 pub­lic tran­sit bus to and from Prince Ge­orge’s Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter.

The pa­tient has been in iso­la­tion since May 13.

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