Two measles cases in Montco

My colleague Don Sapatkin will have a report in The Inquirer tomorrow on two recent cases of measles in Montgomery County. High vaccination rates mean that measles cases are rare in the U.S. and there have been no cases reported in Montgomery county in the last five years. Both of the current cases involved people who recently returned from trips to Africa.

Here’s a preview of Don's story for tomorrow’s paper:

A second case of measles in a month has been reported in Montgomery County, but health officials said Wednesday that an investigation had determined that the cases — both involving people who had recently done relief work in southern African countries experiencing outbreaks — were not connected.

The latest case involved an unvaccinated 25-year-old student at Bryn Athyn College who flew back from Zambia on Aug. 25 and is now recovering at Abington Memorial Hospital. A county health department nurse on Wednesday was tracking down his contacts at the college and offering vaccinations if needed, spokeswoman Harriet Morton said.

No one else in the county was believed to have been exposed she said. The Philadelphia Quarantine Station, operated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was handling any exposures at the airport, she said.

In the previous case, a 47-year-old woman who had recently traveled to Malawi developed symptoms and became infectious after returning home, Morton said. She has since recovered.

The county on Aug. 13 publicized a series of locations where she visited and could have infected other people. No illnessses were reported, and Morton said the period when infections would have appeared ended on Aug. 24 — one day before the latest case arrived at Philadelphia International Airport.

Measles is rare in the U.S. and other countries with high vaccination rates. Morton said no other cases had been reported in Montgomery County since at least 2006.

Measles, a respiratory disease that spreads primarily through breathing, coughing or sneezing, is so contagious that almost every child who does not have immunity and gets exposed to the virus will become infected, according to the CDC. Common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body, but it can also cause ear infections and pneumonia. One or two of every 1,000 cases are fatal.


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