August 6, 2003
HONOLULU - The Department of Health is alerting physicians and the
public of a recent increase in the number of locally-acquired measles
cases. So far this year, the Department has identified a total of nine
cases of locally-acquired measles on Oahu as compared to zero cases for
the same time period in 2002.
“We’re concerned about these locally-acquired cases
because measles is such a highly contagious disease. The best defense
against measles is vaccination. Parents are strongly urged to check
their child’s vaccination schedule and keep it up to date,”
said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Effler.
Prior to the introduction of measles immunizations in 1965, measles
was a common childhood illness leaving lasting protection. Current
recommendations are that infants receive their first measles, mumps and
rubella vaccination (MMR) between 12-15 months of age. Children 12
months and older attending preschool must have documentation of
receiving one dose of the MMR vaccination. Students attending
kindergarten through grade 12, college and other post-secondary schools
in Hawai`i must have documentation of having received two doses of MMR
vaccine. Adults born after 1957 may also need immunization if
potentially exposed to measles.
Measles has the potential to spread rapidly within the community;
therefore the Health Department is alerting all physicians to maintain
a high level of suspicion for measles among their patients with fever
and rash illness. Physicians are to report cases to the Department,
which conducts an intensive investigation, and implements control
Measles is characterized by runny nose, high fever, cough, reddened
eyes, rash and a red blotchy rash, which usually lasts about four days.
The rash commonly begins on the face and then spreads to the rest of
the body. Complications such as pneumonia, croup and diarrhea occur
commonly in young children. Nationally, death occurs in 1 to 3 of every
1,000 cases predominantly resulting from respiratory and neurologic
complications. Case fatality rates are increased in children younger
than 5 years or age and immuno-compromised children.
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For more information, contact:
Janice Okubo, Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4442