UC Davis Medical Center has notified about 200 patients that they may have been exposed to the measles virus during recent visits to the hospital.
The Sacramento, California hospital sent measles exposure notifications last week, according to a report by CNN, recommending all patients and visitors contact their doctors to discuss vaccination history, symptoms to looks for, and determine the level of risk of infection.
According to the notice, the hospital became aware it had treated a patient with measles on March 17, and began taking appropriate precautions in the areas the patient had visited.
To date, no additional measles cases have been reported to the healthcare facility. However, out of an abundance of caution, the medical center is advising all patients who visited the center during this time frame consult with their primary care doctor. Patients who received the notification letter should also contact any and all family or friends who came to visit them at the facility, and have them contact their primary care doctor to assess their risk of measles infection.
Measles is a highly contagious illness and typically causes rashes, fever, cough, runny, nose, and watery eyes. Generally, after two or three days of symptoms onset, those infected will begin to notice tiny white spots appear inside of their mouth, known as Koplik Spots.
In severe cases of measles, individuals may develop pneumonia or encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain. Both of these adverse health consequences increase the risk of death, especially for children or those with already weakened immune symptoms.
The virus is extremely contagious, and can be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. However, it is completely preventable with the MMR vaccine.
Although measles had been considered “eradicated” in the United State for decades, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the recent rise in measles outbreaks is the result of unvaccinated individuals who become infected and spread the disease to other unvaccinated individuals. Sometimes it is brought in to the U.S. by individuals from countries with low vaccination rates. However, a growing number of individuals in the United States have not been vaccinated due to unsubstantiated claims linking autism to vaccines.
Last month, the CDC issued a measles update indicating 314 cases of measles across 15 states had been reported so far in in 2019. Between the previous update on March 7, CDC officials received approximately 100 addition measles cases by March 25, 2019.
Earlier this year, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency after 35 measles cases were reported within the state in less than a month. According to the CDC, measles cases in Washington have more than doubled.
Public health officials warn the amount of measles cases reported in the U.S. through March have exceeded the total number of measles cases recorded in all 2018, and are currently the highest recorded in more than two decades.
Vaccines are necessary to prevent many diseases. Research has proven measles vaccines not only prevent the disease, but are also safe and will not lead to autism, many health experts say. It is key each person receive the necessary vaccines to prevent future disease outbreaks, they warn.