The county announced on Tuesday it was investigating a possible case of measles in a Fairfax County resident. Health officials identified potential exposure sites, and the individual is in self-isolation at home. The test to confirm the case would take 24 hours to complete, they said.
The county did not say where in the county the resident lives.
More than 100 cases of measles have been diagnosed in 23 states in 2015, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. That marks a rapid increase in this country of a disease that was considered eradicated 15 years ago. CDC officials have said pockets of residents who refuse vaccinations are causing the rise.
From the county health department:
People who have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the past are at very low risk of being infected with measles. Measles is easily preventable through safe and effective MMR vaccine. The best protection against future measles cases is the on-time vaccination of all susceptible people.
Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected individual. Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body.
Fairfax County Public Schools require students to have the MMR vaccine. However, families can take a medical or religious exemption from the requirement. In a story last week, Reston Now outlined how many area children currently take the exemption.
More than 100 people have been diagnosed with the disease in the last month. At least 90 of the cases were believed to have begun when a person contagious with the disease visited Disneyland.
The measles vaccine has been commonplace since the mid-1960s. Prior to the 1960s, nearly 4 million Americans under age 15 contracted the disease annually, says the United States Centers for Disease Control. The CDC had considered measles in the U.S. eradicated in 2000.
But last year the CDC reported 54 people in the U.S. have reported being infected with measles in January and February alone.
While most people recover well, measles can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death, says the CDC.
Nearly 95 percent of kindergartners nationwide were vaccinated against measles, according to the CDC. However, 48 states allow for exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
Mississippi and West Virginia, the two states that allow only medical exemptions to vaccination, have had no measles cases this year.
Virginia is among the states that allow for medical or religious exemptions.
In Fairfax County, students are required to have a long list of vaccinations, including measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, Hepatitis B, tetanus and whooping cough, among others.
Students must show vaccination proof to enter kindergarten and again to enter sixth grade, unless they opt out for religious or medical reasons. There is also a small number of “conditionally enrolled” students whose records are in the process of being obtained.
In 2011, the medical journal Pediatrics said that one in 10 parents don’t vaccinate within a vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC. About 13 percent either delayed, skipped or made up their own vaccine schedule.
In Fairfax County, the majority follow the vaccination guidelines, said an FCPS spokesman. The Virginia Department of Health has a tool to break down immunization records by school.
Here is how Reston schools stack up with overall vaccinations, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
The discovery of the person with measles came after health officials in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties confirmed last month that an infected person may have been contagious while visiting several area locations in the Chantilly and South Riding area between April 23 and May 1.
The second case has been confirmed in a person in close contact with the first case.
The latest exposures occurred between May 11 and May 15 at many locations from Fairfax County to Montgomery County, Md. Health officials said people who have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are at very low risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures.
Among the Reston-area locations:
- Starbucks, 2407 Centreville Rd., Herndon. Monday, May 12 between 7:10 and 10:20 a.m.
- Nysmith School for the Gifted, 13625 Eds Dr., Herndon. Tuesday, May 13 between 1:30 and 5:30 p.m, and same hours on Wednesday, May 14.
- Life Time Athletic, 1757 Business Center Dr., Reston. Wednesday, May 14 between 8:20 a.m and 12:45 p.m.
For additional locations in surrounding areas, see the Virginia Department of Health website.
Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected individual, say Virginia Department of Health officials.
Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body. Based on these dates of exposure, anyone infected with the measles virus may develop symptoms as late as June 5.
For people who are not vaccinated and who may have been exposed, the VDH offers this advice.
- Preventive treatment may be available for those who were at the exposure sites on May 15 only. The preventive treatment is particularly important for high risk individuals (e.g., pregnant women, infants under the age of one, and immunosuppressed people). However, this preventive treatment must be administered today, May 21, to be effective. Please call 1-877-275-8343 as soon as possible to be assessed for exposure risk.
- If you have never received MMR vaccine, you may be at risk of measles. Monitor your health and if you notice symptoms of measles (see below), immediately isolate yourself in your home to limit your exposure to others and call your primary health care provider to discuss further care.
- Call ahead before going to the doctor’s office or the emergency room and tell them that you were exposed to measles.