The Pennsylvania Department of Health is warning the public that someone who may have measles could have exposed others to the highly contagious illness on Aug. 19 at in Lower Nazareth Township.
The person is a New Jersey resident and has yet to be positively diagnosed, but a measles diagnosis is likely, according to a press release.
The possible exposure happened at the Northampton County department store between 4pm and 9:30pm on Friday, Aug. 19.
“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,” the release states.
Individuals possibly exposed at Kohl’s in Northampton County would not benefit from receiving immune globulin, as it is only effective if taken within six days of exposure to measles.
This most recent measles scare occurred less than a month after on July 22.
Although most people in the United States are immune to measles, either because they received the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine in childhood or because they were exposed to measles prior to the use of vaccines, the following groups of individuals are at risk of becoming infected with measles if exposed:
- Infants less than 1 year of age who are too young to have received the MMR vaccine
- People who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been revaccinated
- People born after 1957 who have only received one dose of MMR vaccine
- Those who refused vaccination
- Those from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or circulating measles.
Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms will 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.
An individual with measles can spread the virus to others for four days before and four days after the rash begins. It is spread by infected droplets during sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.
Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.
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 say you’ve been exposed to measles so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else and the cause of illness can be determined.
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.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health urges all residents to be vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine is given to toddlers when they are 12 to 15 months old, and a second dose is required for all Pennsylvania schoolchildren. However, individuals who have received only one dose of the vaccine, instead of the recommended two doses, may still be at risk of infection with this virus.
For more information about measles, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (877-724-3258) or visit www.health.state.pa.us.