Health Department reports first probable case of measles since prior to 1994

Online Staff Report

The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) is investigating a probable case of measles.

The investigation has found a 4-year-old with a rash that began near the ears with an onset of June 30. The child also presented with conjunctivitis, fever and Koplik spots as observed by a physician. The last confirmed case of measles in Winnebago County was prior to 1994.

Measles is a highly contagious disease. Measles is transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets. Measles spreads through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The time from exposure to the onset of rash averages 14 days.

The illness is characterized by a fever and cold-like symptoms that may include a runny nose; red runny and sensitive eyes; and a cough. These symptoms are followed by a red, blotchy rash that usually starts on the face or neck, and spreads to the rest of the body.

WCHD strongly urges all area health-care professionals to maintain a high index of suspicion for the appearance of additional measles cases in the coming weeks and report all suspect cases to WCHD. Measles is an extremely serious and highly contagious viral disease that is spread through airborne droplets person to person.

Furthermore, as outbreaks of measles continue abroad, the importation of measles cases in travelers continues to be an issue. Physicians should consider measles in people with clinically compatible illness and a recent travel history. Thanks to widespread measles vaccinations, measles is extremely rare in the United States. However, the disease is still brought into our country by people who get infected abroad. In 2011, 222 people in the United States were reported to have measles. U.S. residents and visitors got measles abroad and brought it to United States, and spread it to others. This caused 17 measles outbreaks in various U.S. communities last year.

The measles vaccine is highly effective in preventing disease. Who should get the measles vaccine? It is recommended that people of all ages keep up to date with all of their vaccinations, and it is specifically recommend the children receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR vaccine. The first dose administered at ages 12 through 15 months, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.

Winnebago County residents who are uninsured or do not have a medical provider can receive vaccinations at the Winnebago County Health Department. Vaccination appointments can be made by calling (815) 720-4370.

WCHD has taken steps to respond to this case, including the following:

Enhancing surveillance for measles in Winnebago County;

Issuing a Health Alert to private health care providers; and

Providing vaccinations to underinsured or uninsured populations.

Additional information about measles can be accessed at the WCHD website at, or by calling the Winnebago County Health Department at (815) 720-4000 during normal business hours.

Posted July 11, 2012

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