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Indiana health department reports first measles case in five years

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The first case of measles in Indiana in five years was confirmed by the Indiana Department of Health last Friday. Investigations are ongoing, but the risk to the public is deemed low.  

The case was confirmed in Lake County on Feb. 23. Measles is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus called morbillivirus. It is highly uncommon in the U.S. due to high vaccination rates. However, visitors from other countries or Americans traveling abroad are susceptible to catching the disease. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been 20 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. this year as of Feb. 15. 

In the past, the number of measles cases jumped 30% from 2016-19 due to the anti-vaccination movement, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.  

According to the CDC, measles starts with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Symptoms onset seven to 14 days post-exposure, sometimes starting 21 days after exposure. Fevers can reach 105°F and white spots appear in the mouth after a few days. A rash begins on the hairline and face two to four days later, spreading to the body and eventually fading after five days. A single case is considered an outbreak due to easy spread through sneezing or coughing. Droplets remain infectious in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours. 

Over 93% of the general population develops measles immunity with one Measles, Mumps and Rubella dose, rising to over 97% after the second, according to the CDC. The CDC encourages people to ensure vaccination status with healthcare providers while pre-1957 births are presumed immune. 

Children typically get measles vaccinations between 12-15 months old and between four and six years old, but those as young as six months may get vaccinated if they are at risk. Since some are too young for immunization, IDOH recommends surrounding individuals should be vaccinated to safeguard them.  

Individuals should remain home if they are experiencing measles symptoms and contact their healthcare provider before visiting a doctor. If diagnosed, they should isolate at home and avoid any contact, especially with vulnerable individuals like unvaccinated infants and pregnant women. 

The public can call the IDOH information center at 1-800-382-1563 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. EST Monday through Friday or visit the IDOH website and the CDC website for more information. 

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