January 27, 2024: The national public health agency of the US has issued a nationwide alert to healthcare providers to track measles, following a concern for a potential rise in imported cases associated with increased international travel in summer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been notified of 23 cases from December 1 to January 23, including seven direct importations of measles by international travellers and two outbreaks with more than five cases each.
Most of these cases were among children and adolescents who had not received a measles vaccine even when they were eligible, according to a CDC statement.
The alert urged healthcare providers should be on alert for patients who have febrile rash illness and symptoms consistent with measles, and have recently travelled abroad, especially to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks.
Infected people are contagious from four days before the rash starts through four days afterwards.
Measles cases often originate from unvaccinated or under-vaccinated US residents who travel internationally and then transmit the disease to people who are not vaccinated against measles.
“The increased number of measles importations seen in recent weeks is reflective of a rise in global measles cases and a growing global threat from the disease,” according to the CDC.
The agency told healthcare providers to isolate the patients suspected of malaria. “Healthcare providers should be adequately protected against measles and should adhere to standard and airborne precautions when evaluating suspect cases regardless of their vaccination status.”
Fever, red eyes
The hospitals must inform state health departments about suspected cases of measles “to ensure rapid testing and investigation.”
Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Measles typically begins with high fever (may spike to more than 104°), cough, runny nose (coryza), and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).
Tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet.