The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment have confirmed two cases of measles in Johnson County, KS. The cases involve an adult and a child.
All those at risk for the disease are being contacted and the investigation is ongoing.
KDHE said the child was old enough and eligible to be vaccinated for the disease, but was not. Officials are looking into if the adult was vaccinated.
While KDHE couldn't say just yet if the two cases are from the same family, they did say they are linked. They also said the new cases do not appear to have been contracted during international travel.
Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. With the creation of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, measles cases are rare in the United States; however, it still sickens approximately 20 million and kills 164,000 people worldwide each year.
"The best way to keep from getting the disease is by being vaccinated. Protect children by making sure they have the MMR vaccine when they are 12 to 15 months old, and again before they enter kindergarten," said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE secretary and state health officer in a news release.
This comes about a month after Clay County, MO, announced that two family members of an infant suffering from measles had also come down with the disease. They had recently traveled overseas.
Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. The signs and symptoms of measles typically begin one to two weeks after someone is exposed to an infected person.
"If you have a fever, stay home except to see a healthcare provider. If you need to visit your healthcare provider, call ahead so appropriate measures can be taken to protect other patients and staff," said Lougene Marsh, JCDHE director, in a news release.
People at high risk for severe illness and complications from measles include infants and children under 5 years of age, adults over 20 years of age, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
Dr. Steve Lauer with the University of Kansas Hospital said a person doesn't have to see measles to get the virus.
"A little bit of the contagious part can precede them actually getting the measles rash. So once they're sick, have a little bit of the fever, the cough, the runny nose part that goes along with measles and shows clearly that they're infected, then they become contagious. So they can be contagious before it's clear that they have measles, with the rash," he said.
Lauer said measles spreads quickly amongst a group of people living together.
"One person with measles among a group that's unvaccinated will spread it to a lot of people. It's a highly contagious disease, it spreads easily. It used to be basically everybody got it, so it's going to spread if there are people who at risk for picking up the infection.
Lauer said it's not surprising that there have been new cases popping up, saying, we're generations removed from when measles was a problem. Since people haven't seen it, they don't see a need for the vaccination anymore and now we're back to seeing people getting the virus.
He said the only preventative tool against measles is vaccination. Once someone gets the disease, they've got it and it just has to run its course at that point.
The last time Johnson County saw a measles case was in 2011 when six people got sick. So far this year at least 336 people have come down with the measles in the U.S. That's the most for a year since 2001. It's also the most for the first five month of the year since 1994.
The patients are being urged to stay home and not have contact with other people.
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