SALT LAKE CITY — Five confirmed cases of measles have been detected in and contained to Salt Lake County, health officials announced Tuesday morning. There is still one probable case and, so far, no more suspected cases of the highly contagious disease.
An initial case was announced Thursday, after an Olympus High School teenager with the virus was sent home and placed on voluntary quarantine. Anyone without the proper vaccinations or proof of them was also sent home from school and accommodations are being made to keep them up to date with their school work.
Three other schools within the Granite School District have now been affected, including Skyline High, Evergreen Junior High and William Penn Elementary.
Salt Lake Valley Health Department spokeswoman Pam Davenport said the staff is "working diligently to contain the measles outbreak and to minimize the outbreak's impact on our community." Epidemiologists are trying to locate all potentially exposed individuals, take blood tests and provide vaccinations and/or immune globulin to unvaccinated individuals to counteract any exposure to the illness.
Individuals already contacted by the health department, as well as those who have no evidence of measles immunity, are encouraged to remain on voluntary quarantine until April 25, when the disease is expected to have run its course.
Nationally, cases began being showing up on March 2, in Hennepin County, Minn. To date, 15 cases have been reported there, 12 of which have been linked to an original case that was apparently acquired in Kenya, another in Florida and one case acquired infection in India, according to the Minnesota Health Department.
Texas and Michigan also reported some of their first measles cases in nearly two decades, both revealing a link to the Orlando area. The Orange County Health Department in Florida issued a notice to tourists and area venues after they received reports of up to five infections believed to have been contracted there.
Davenport said measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, requiring two doses of the MMR vaccine to be completely effective. Individuals born after 1957 should have also received two doses of the vaccine and should contact their doctor to determine if they are in compliance. Anyone born prior to 1957 likely has natural immunity, having been around when the disease was more common.
Health officials stress the importance of voluntary quarantine in the effort to contain the outbreaks, meaning individuals who may have been exposed to the measles virus and have not been vaccinated, should stay home from work, school, church and recreational activities, Davenport said.
Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, accompanied by other signs and symptoms, such as a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes and sore throat. Within two or three days, spots or a rash may appear, along with a spiking fever. The rash will spread downward to the chest and back and even to the thighs and feet. After about a week, the rash fades in the same sequence it appears. More information on measles can be found online, at www.slvheatlh.org or by calling the SLVHD Health Hotline at 801-743-7280.