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LDH issues health guidance following confirmed measles cases in Greater New Orleans

by Minden Press-Herald

The Louisiana Department of Health is issuing public health guidance following two confirmed measles cases in the Greater New Orleans area.

The two cases were confirmed through laboratory testing after a visit to a New Orleans-area emergency department. Both individuals were unvaccinated for measles and were exposed to the virus while visiting another state.

There are no additional measles cases in Louisiana known at this time. However, the number of measles cases is increasing worldwide, and there have been recent cases throughout the U.S. including in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona. The public should be aware that measles is very contagious and there can be severe health outcomes for some individuals who contract measles, including those who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, very young children and seniors. Those who have received the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine are well protected against contracting measles.

If you are unsure if you and/or your children are vaccinated with MMR, contact your provider or visit MyIR to sign up to access your and your family’s vaccine records. Most children receive the MMR vaccine before attending kindergarten. In 2022, 87% of 2-year-olds in Louisiana had received the MMR vaccine.

What to know about measles

  • Measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease. 
  • Those at the highest risk of contracting measles are unvaccinated people (including babies too young to be vaccinated), travelers to areas where measles is circulating and healthcare workers. 
  • A small number of cases are capable of quickly producing epidemics, especially in under-vaccinated populations.
  • A person with measles can spread it to others from 4 days before a rash appears through the 4th day after the rash appears.
  • The disease can be very serious, even fatal for some patients. 
  • There are health complications associated with measles. 
  • Pneumonia occurs in up to 6% of reported cases and accounts for 60% of deaths attributed to measles. 
  • Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) may also occur. 
  • Other complications include middle ear infections and convulsions. 
  • 20% of people who are infected with measles have an illness severe enough that results in hospitalization.
  • Measles is more severe in infants than adults.
  • The most effective way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization.

Measles symptoms: What to watch out for

  • Initial measles symptoms include a high fever that may spike as high as 104°, a cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. 
  • Two to three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth.
  • After three to five days, a rash will break out, usually appearing as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline, then spreading downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet. 
  • When the rash appears, a person’s fever will typically spike.
  • People with measles symptoms feel miserable.
  • People who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, very young children and seniors are particularly susceptible to serious health outcomes from the virus.

What to do if you or your family have symptoms

  • Call your doctor, healthcare provider or parish health unit right away.
  • Your doctor or clinic will let you know if you need to come in for a visit.
  • Measles is very contagious and you do not want to expose someone in a waiting room. By calling first, the clinic can give you some instructions on where to go.
  • Stay at home and avoid having visitors if you or your child are sick.

How to protect yourself from measles

  • Vaccination with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) is a highly effective and safe way to prevent the contracting and spreading of measles.
  • If you are unsure whether you’ve been vaccinated, ask your health care provider to find out if you need an MMR. You can also check your family’s vaccine status at MyIR.
  • If you have not yet registered for MyIR, signing up is easy. Just follow the steps on the registration page: https://myirmobile.com/register/
  • If your child is 1 year old or older, and has never received the MMR vaccine, it is not too late to get them vaccinated.
  • The MMR vaccine is safe and effective.

For more information, visit immunizations.la.gov 

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