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Health Officials Report Four New Measles Cases In Allegheny County

An-Li Herring
90.5 WESA
Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department

There are four more cases of measles in Pittsburgh. The Allegheny County Health Department said the new cases are within one family and that two adults and two children are infected. One of the adults and both children are visiting from overseas and are not residents of the county. The other infected adult is a county resident and is not vaccinated.
“They were not in contact with any of the other communities where there have been outbreaks,” said Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker. “Given the infectious nature of this disease we’re going to be on high alert. Our hope is that there will be minimal additional cases.”

Hacker said that two of the individuals have not reportedly been outside of the house while infectious and will be quarantined in their home.

One individual, who is currently in the hospital in stable condition, reported being at Enterprise Rental on Babcock Boulevard on Wednesday, May 1. The department said the person was there between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., which means there was potential exposure window was from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Measles virus can remain airborne for up to two hours.

Another individual, who has now recovered, could have exposed others while traveling at the Pittsburgh International Airport on Tuesday, April 16 between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Hacker said that if someone who does not have the measles vaccination was exposed at the airport, they could get a rash between April 23 and May 7.

One of the children has recovered and the other is “doing fine” said Hacker.

“We are urging everyone who is susceptible to measles or becomes ill with symptoms to contact their primary care doctor,” Hacker said. Hacker emphasized that people who believe they are infected should not go to the emergency room or doctor's office, because that could potentially expose others to the disease. 

The new cases brings the total up to five measles cases reported in Allegheny county this week. The four new cases were not related to the first case earlier this week, despite all involving international travel.

The health department reported earlier this week that a man who had recently traveled internationally was treated for measles and discharged from UPMC Shadyside on Monday, April 29. The health department believed the individual to be potentially contagious on Thursday, April 25, and said he could have exposed others to the virus at two different Pittsburgh grocery stores over the weekend.

Measles is highly contagious and can spread through contact with saliva, sneezing or coughing. At first, symptoms can include a fever, sore throat and runny nose before advancing to a red blotchy skin rash and eye inflammation.

The best way to protect yourself from measles is to receive two doses of the vaccine, a regimen that is 97 percent effective. The higher a community’s vaccination rate, the less likely the virus will spread to people who are not immune. Adults who were born before 1957 are considered to be immune.

This story was updated on May 3, 2019 at 8:50 a.m. to include more information on vaccinations.