Hundreds Potentially Exposed to Measles

A measles outbreak spreading across the country appears to have one common link: at least nine people who have contracted the virus traveled to Disneyland in mid-December.

The El Paso County Public Health Department confirmed Thursday that one person in Colorado Springs has contracted the virus. This person also traveled to Disneyland last month.

Below is the full news release from EPCPH:

El Paso County Public Health has been notified of an individual who traveled to Colorado Springs in late December and tested positive for measles at the state laboratory on January 7, 2015.

The individual tested positive for measles after traveling to Disneyland in California in mid-December, where public health officials believe the patient was exposed to the virus. At least 9 other cases of measles have recently been identified in other states with travel to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park during mid-December.

The patient was hospitalized at Penrose Hospital, 2222 N. Nevada Ave., in Colorado Springs. The individual, who is no longer contagious, has been discharged and made a full recovery. Visitors and patients present in the following areas at Penrose Hospital may have been exposed on January 3, 2015:

· Emergency Department and CAT scan suite from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

· Fourth floor from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“While most people are protected against measles, unvaccinated patients and visitors who were at Penrose Hospital may be at risk for developing measles. These people should contact their health care provider if they experience a rash and fever,” said Dr. Bill Letson, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director.

Penrose Hospital is notifying potentially exposed patients. Penrose Hospital and El Paso County Public Health are contacting people directly exposed to the individual but the measles virus is highly contagious and other exposures may exist. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is also notifying health care providers in Colorado through a health alert network (HAN) alert. The last case of measles in El Paso County was in 1992.

Measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red watery eyes, and a rash that usually begins on the face 2-4 days after the onset of other symptoms and typically spreads downward to the rest of the body. Complications of measles include pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation). In unvaccinated pregnant women, measles can also cause miscarriage or premature birth. There is no specific treatment for measles. People with measles need bed rest, fluids, and control of fever. Patients with complications may need treatment specific to their problem.

The incubation period for measles ranges from 7 – 21 days. People who were exposed to this person could be at risk for measles as late as January 24. Measles virus is spread when a person sneezes or coughs and sprays droplets in the air or on surfaces. Anyone who suspects they may have measles is urged to call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency room. Special arrangements can be made for you to be evaluated while also protecting other patients and medical staff from possible infection.

"We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations. Two doses of measles vaccine is more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles," said Dr. Bill Letson, El Paso County Public Health’s Medical Director.

For more information contact El Paso County Public Health at (719) 578-3199, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org or call CO Help at 1-877-462-2911.