Unvaccinated child contracts measles in Florida

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FILE – This Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, file photo, shows boxes of the measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine (MMR) and measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine inside a freezer at a doctor’s office in Northridge, Calif. On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, health officials announced that German measles (rubella) is officially gone from North and […]

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Health officials are investigating a measles case that’s infecting an unvaccinated child in Pinellas County, Florida.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County says the child contracted the infection locally but they have not identified the exact source.

The health department is now working with other healthcare partners to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the virus so they can be notified. 

More: Back to School checklist: Getting state-required vaccinations

“We are continuing to investigate, but we would like families to know that their children could be exposed to diseases like measles anywhere and, unless they’re protected with vaccination, they are risking potentially serious health effects for their child,” said DOH-Pinellas Director Dr. Ulyee Choe, an infectious disease specialist. “We encourage all parents to fully vaccinate their children to protect them from diseases like measles.”

The vaccine

Two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine are recommended routinely for children. The first dose is given when a child is 12 to 15 months old. The second is given when the child is between the ages of four and six years old.

The department says adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. A second dose is recommended for adults at higher risk, like international travelers and health care workers.

If you’re not vaccinated and get exposed to measles, you could be ordered to stay out of public places – including school and work – for up to 21 days.

Symptoms of measles

The measles virus is spread through air droplets when someone who is infected breathes, coughs or sneezes. Initial symptoms include high fever up to 105 degrees, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Those symptoms are then followed by a blotchy rash that spreads from your head to your feet.

The health department says measles can be severe in young children and people with compromised immune systems. Complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis and even death.

If you are showing measles symptoms, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

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