A person recently diagnosed with measles may have exposed others to the highly contagious disease at two different Naval medical facilities in San Diego, county health officials announced Friday.
According to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), the ill person contracted measles after a trip to the Philippines and was treated at Branch Health Clinic Miramar on Feb. 14 and Feb. 18 and at Naval Medical Center San Diego on Feb. 17.
HHSA officials say patients, visitors and hospital staff may have been exposed to the virus if they visited either facility, specifically if they were present at the Branch Health Clinic Miramar on Feb. 14 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., or between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Feb. 18, or at the emergency department or waiting room of Naval Medical Center San Diego on Feb. 17 between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
County public health officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., says measles is a contagious disease that’s easily spread through coughing, sneezing or coming in contact with an infected person.
“Measles is spread through the air and is very infectious to persons who are not vaccinated, including infants under the age of 12 months who are too young to receive the first dose,” said Wooten. “The best way to prevent measles is by getting the measles vaccine.”
HHSA officials say measles take between seven and 21 days to develop after exposure. Early symptoms include a cough, runny nose and red eyes and even early on, an ill person is considered contagious.
About one to four days after early symptoms, a distinctive red rash typically appears, beginning on the face and head and then proceeding downward and outward to the hands and feet. The rash fades in the same order it began, from head to feet. Complications from the disease can include diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia.
Wooten says anyone who was present at either Naval medical facility during those time slots should be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease and contact their health care provider or the HHSA Epidemiology Branch at (619) 692-8499.
The HHSA and Navy public health officials are in the process of contacting people who were registered as patients at both facilities during the exposure periods to determine if they have been vaccinated for measles. All persons in 1957 or after should have received the vaccine as children.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 15 cases of measles have been reported in the state so far this year.
In San Diego, this is the first diagnosed case of measles in the county since July 2013. Health officials say there is an ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines responsible for 1,700 cases of the disease and 21 measles-related deaths in 2013.
Currently, there is no treatment for measles, but health officials recommend plenty of bed rest, fluids and fever control. For more information about measles and vaccination, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit this website.