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CDC Issues Measles Alert After 200,000 Exposed in Kentucky

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The alert advises attendees that are not fully vaccinated to quarantine and monitor symptoms for 21 days.

sharafmaksumov/AdobeStock

sharafmaksumov/AdobeStock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health advisory to notify clinicians and public health officials about a confirmed case of measles at a large religious gathering in Kentucky.1

The event was held February 17 and 18 at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky and attracted about 20,000 people. On February 24, the Kentucky Department for Public Health identified a confirmed case of measles in an unvaccinated attendee who had a recent history of international travel.

The CDC recommends unvaccinated individuals who attended the gathering speak to their health care provider about getting vaccinated after completing quarantine, as two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine are about 97% effective in preventing measles.2 It also cautions anyone who attended the event on either day, and are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against measles, to quarantine for 21 days after their potential exposure. Measles can be contagious for up to 4 days before symptoms appear.

The case marks the third diagnosed in Kentucky in as many months; another case was linked to a recent large outbreak in central Ohio. The CDC said measles vaccination rates declined globally during the COVID-19 pandemic and outbreaks are occurring in all World Health Organization regions. There has been an increase in cases in the US from 49 in 2021 to 121 in 2022, all among children who were not fully vaccinated.

The health advisory also highlights the importance of early recognition, diagnosis, and appropriate treatments, and urges all clinicians to be on the alert for potential cases in their patients. If a case is suspected, health officials are urged to separate the patient from others in a single-patient airborne infection isolation room (AIIR) if available, recommend the vaccine, and contact local or state health departments to ensure rapid testing and investigation.

References

1. Measles Exposure at a Large Gathering in Kentucky, February 2023 and Global Measles Outbreaks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2023/han00488.asp. Published March 3, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2023.

2. Measles Vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/measles/index.html. Accessed March 8, 2023.

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