Measles Trailed Ill Person Around Metro Detroit; Health Dept Wants Residents To Check For Exposure

It started June 12.

June 21, 2018 - 3:24 pm

(WWJ) Michigan state officials are trying to notify local residents who may have been exposed to measles after two cases have been reported this spring and summer. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services just confirmed a second case of measles in Michigan, which is unrelated to Michigan’s first case that occurred in March.

"Both cases were the result of exposure outside of the country, emphasizing the higher risk of measles during international travel and the importance of being protected against the disease by vaccination," the health department wrote in a press release.

Most recently, the ill individual arrived June 12 at Detroit Metro Airport and moved around the area, trailng the disease everywhere they went. 

"We ask that (anyone who was exposed) just watch for symptoms and contact their health care provider if they have questions," said health department spokeswoman Andrea Mini Coochie.

Exposure includes anyone who was at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) at the international arrivals area of the McNamara Terminal at 3:45 p.m. June 12. Health officials are in the process of contacting potentially exposed passengers from the flight.

In addition to the possibility of exposing people at the airport, the ill individual visited the following places:  

June 12 (5-7 p.m.): Hertz car rental airport shuttle bus
June 12 (5:30 p.m.) through June 16 (5 p.m.): Staybridge Suites, Ann Arbor
June 12 (7:30-9:30 p.m.): Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches store at 3945 S. State St in Ann Arbor
June 14 (2-6 p.m.): Concentra Urgent Care in Ann Arbor

The health department wants to remind people that measles is a vaccine-preventable respiratory infection that can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. The illness begins with a high fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose, and is followed by a red, raised body rash starting on the head and face that then spreads to the rest of the body. Measles patients often experience eye pain and sensitivity to light. Cases can be contagious a few days before the rash appears, which increases the possibility of unknowingly exposing others.

“Immunizations are the best way to protect our families and communities from the harmful, sometimes deadly consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “If you have questions about a child’s vaccination status or your own vaccination history, talk to your doctor right away to ensure your family has optimal protection.”

Because measles is easily spread, vaccination is the best protection against the disease. Successful prevention and control of measles requires high levels of immunity in all communities.

The measles vaccine is highly effective and very safe. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of the vaccine. The first of two routine childhood measles vaccine doses is given at 12 months of age. A second vaccine dose is given before the start of kindergarten.

Measles is a rare disease in the United States as a result of inclusion of the measles vaccine in routine childhood immunization since the 1960s.  However, measles continues to be common in other countries. 

This year several countries in Europe are reporting significant measles outbreaks, including France, Italy, Germany, England, Romania, and Ukraine, among others. Recent outbreaks have also been reported in Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil.

From 2001 – 2012, the average number of measles cases reported nationally per year was about 60. But in recent years there have been more, which is of great concern to public health authorities. In 2017, there were 118 cases in the U.S. including two cases in Michigan; the majority of people who got measles were not vaccinated.

In an effort to help parents protect their children from serious vaccine-preventable diseases, MDHHS has partnered with the Franny Strong Foundation in launching the I Vaccinate campaign. I Vaccinate provides vaccination facts for parents to make informed decisions about vaccinations. For more information, visit IVaccinate.org.