Measles strikes Colorado! Health officials on high alert amid triple health threat

MMR Vaccine | Credits: Reuters
MMR Vaccine | Credits: Reuters

United States: An international traveler has tested positive for measles; according to health officials, it has been the first case in Colorado since January 2019. The authorities are considering it as a new threat as the United States has been dealing with triple threats – COVID-19, Flu, and RSV infection.

The health officials have explained that the infected person landed in the state at Denver International Airport on December 13, 2023, and has a travel history of several countries. 

The adolescent has been in isolation since December 18 and is seeking medical attention. According to the health experts, the individual’s vaccination status is unknown. The health agencies, including Arapahoe County Public Health, have been working tirelessly to notify people about the disease and direct exposure to the medical disorder. 

The medical proceedings have been carried out alongside the state and other local public health agencies. 

Measles threat looms for unvaccinated individuals – MMR vaccine key to prevention and safety

The health authorities have underscored that measles can be highly contagious and severe for individuals who haven’t had the MMR vaccine – vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella. It is to be noted that if the vaccine is administrated within 72 hours after exposure but before symptoms, then it can help prevent severe infection. 

Vaccination:

The Department for Public Health and Environment in Colorado mentioned that the efficiency rate of vaccines against measles is impressive, and people who have taken their MMR vaccination should not receive one if they are exposed to measles. The officials further said that the residents and citizens of Coloradans can go to an online database to check the vaccine status of their and their wards. 

Symptoms:

If left untreated, the disease can lead to complications, including brain damage, seizures, ear infections, pneumonia, and, in certain cases, death. The symptoms of measles start after seven to fourteen (7 to 14) days after exposure, but it takes 21 days to appear. 

Some of the common signs and symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Fever
  • Rash – which appears at the hairline and spreads downwards. This appears two to four (2 to 4) days after other symptoms. 
Rashes caused because of Measles

The most common mode of transmission for measles is air, as it can stay in the air for up to two (2) hours. 

Disease investigation by the Department of public health

The Colorado Department for Public Health and Environment has been investigating the case. In this regard, Colorado State Epidemiologist – Dr Rachel Herlihy said, “Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of measles should stay home unless they need medical treatment.”

She further said, “People with signs and symptoms of measles should also not go to childcare facilities, school, work, or other public places to avoid exposing others to this very serious and highly contagious disease.”

MMR vaccine is 97 percent effective!

The MMR vaccine is known to be safe and effective. The vaccine prevents an individual from all three diseases – measles, mumps, and rubella. The vaccine, with two doses, offers an efficiency rate of around 97 percent. 

Vaccine for MMR | Credits: Reuters

According to the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first dose of MMR vaccine is given at the age of 12 to 15 months, and the second dose must be given at the age of four to six (4 to 6) years. The availability of vaccines in Colorado is high with no or low cost.