Health Department Investigates Measles Case on Oʻahu

February 13, 2014, 3:22 PM HST · Updated February 14, 6:06 AM
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Safeway Hawaii Pharmacies on Maui are now offering in-store flu shots on a “walk-in” basis until May 2013. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Pharmacy. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

Health officials in Hawaiʻi are investigating a case of measles involving an Oʻahu infant who contracted the disease while in the Philippines.

Department officials released information this afternoon saying the child is hospitalized and recovering; however, was infectious while traveling back to Honolulu and during visits to healthcare providers.

“We are very concerned about the potential for additional cases of measles,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, in a department press release. “This disease is so contagious that it will infect 90% of the contacts who are not immune. We urge people who suspect they have measles, that is, fever and widespread rash, to call their doctor right away and isolate themselves from others to help contain the spread of illness.”

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Health officials describe measles as “highly contagious” and say it is spread by direct contact with mucus from the nose and throat of an infected person, and through the air by respiratory droplets.

Persons most at risk for catching measles are those who are not vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.

According to health department officials, the symptoms of measles generally begin about 14 days (but can range from 7 to 21 days) after a person is infected and can include: blotchy red rash; fever; cough; runny nose; red, watery eyes or conjunctivitis; feeling run down and achy; and tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth. These “Koplik’s” spots, authorities say, may not always be present.

Authorities say possible complications of measles could include: pneumonia, inflammation of the brain or encephalitis, ear infections, diarrhea, and death.

“The risk of complications from measles is highest in children who are less than a year old, pregnant women, and persons who have an impaired or weakened immune system,” health officials said.

“We are encouraging everyone to check their immunization status and contact their healthcare provider if they need to be vaccinated,” said Ronald Balajadia, immunization branch chief in a statement.

A list pharmacies offering vaccinations is available at the following LINK.

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