Possible measles exposure in Lehigh Valley

HARRISBURG - August 30, 2011

The New Jersey resident has not yet been positively diagnosed, but has a probable case of measles. The person may have exposed people to measles when visiting Kohl's department store (3768 Easton Nazareth Highway) on Aug. 19 from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Based on the date of exposure, it is possible that symptoms could develop as late as Sept. 9 if individuals who visited the department store were infected during that timeframe.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms begin one to two weeks after exposure, and include a runny nose, watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash starts to spread on the face, down the body and out to the arms and legs. The rash usually lasts four to seven days.

Measles virus can be spread to others for four days before and four days after the rash begins. It is spread during sneezing or coughing, by touching contaminated objects and by direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.

Complications from measles can include ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

Those a high risk of becoming infected are:

• Infants less than one year of age, because they are too young to receive the MMR vaccine;

• Persons who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have never been revaccinated;

• Persons born after 1957 who have only received one dose of MMR vaccine;

• Those who refused vaccination; and

• Those from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or low circulating measles.

If you or your children are at risk for measles and become ill with symptoms one to two weeks after possible exposure, you should contact your health care provider immediately and tell them that you've been exposed.

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