Physicians advised to look for signs of measles amid spike in confirmed cases

February 20, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

The California Department of Public Health is urging physicians to be on the lookout for symptoms of measles, due to a recent spike in cases in California. So far in 2014, 14 cases of measles have been reported to public health officials.

The recent cases in California highlight the need for physicians and other health care professionals to be vigilant about measles. Your expert eye, diagnostic skills and prompt reporting of suspect measles cases to public health officials can make a difference in stopping the spread of this highly contagious disease in your community.

Among the California cases, four case-patients had traveled outside of North and South America, with three traveling to the Philippines. Nationally, an increase has been noted in the proportion of measles cases with travel to the Philippines. Measles cases from recent years have reported travel to Germany, France, England, India, and China, among other destinations.  Of the 2014 California case-patients without international travel, three had contact with known measles cases, two had contact with international travelers and five are under investigation to identify potential sources.

Physicians are urged to consider measles in patients of any age who have a fever AND a rash regardless of their travel history. Fever can spike as high as 105°F.  Measles rashes are red, blotchy and maculopapular and typically start on the hairline and face and then spread downwards to the rest of the body.

If you suspect your patient may have measles, isolate the patient immediately and alert your local health department as soon as possible.

Physicians are also urged to administer MMR vaccine to unvaccinated Californians who will be traveling to countries where measles is circulating.  Infants traveling to these countries can be vaccinated as young as six months of age (though they should also have the two standard doses of MMR vaccine after their first birthday). 

Click here for additional information from the California Department of Public Health about measles and measles vaccination.

Contact: Scott Clark, (916) 551-2887, sclark@cmadocs.org.


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