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Pinellas Confirms First Measles Case In 20 Years

Aug 14, 2018

Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County spokeswoman Maggie Hall said they've confirmed a case of the measles in a child who was not vaccinated against the virus. And it was contracted locally.

Hall said measles is highly contagious. So much so, that you can be in a room where someone who has the virus has been and gone and still catch it, even hours later.

"It's spread by air droplets, so it can be anywhere within two hours of being there," Hall said.  "That's how contagious measles is. So it can just be a person sitting there breathing, sneezing, coughing, anything like that."

State law prevents Hall from revealing more information about the child who developed measles, the first case in the county in about 20 years. So it's not clear if the child is old enough for school, or precisely where that child lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 107 people from 21 states were reported to have measles from January 1, through mid-July of this year.

If you are wondering what the symptoms of measles are, you can check here.

Hall and health officials are advising people to get vaccinated. For babies under 12 months of age, and people who for medical reasons cannot get the vaccine, avoidance is key.

"Stay away from sick people, practice good hygiene," Hall advised.

Hall said people who can get the vaccine, should. When enough people in the general population are immune to certain diseases, mainly through vaccination, it provides a sort of indirect protection, called herd immunity, for those individuals who cannot get the vaccine, because they may be allergic to its ingredients or for other reasons.

And there have been times when the vaccine has worn off, over the years. So older adults who want to see if they are still protected by the vaccine can get a blood test to find the answer.

Measles can be a serious illness, and in some cases can cause pneumonia, brain swelling and death, according to the CDC.

News of this measles case is creating long lines for the vaccine at Pinellas County Health Department sites, so Hall is asking people to be patient.