Local officials warn of measles exposure
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.