Health

Potential Measles Exposure at Fallbrook Hospital

An individual recently diagnosed with measles may have exposed others at Fallbrook Hospital on July 17, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today.

The ill person, who is not a county resident, contracted measles after being exposed on a recent international flight from Europe and was treated at Fallbrook Hospital on July 17. Patients, visitors, and hospital staff who were present at the hospital emergency department or who travelled through the waiting room between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM may have been exposed to the virus.

HHSA public health officials are contacting individuals who were registered patients at Fallbrook Hospital during the exposure period to determine if they have been vaccinated. People who have not been vaccinated, or who have not had measles, should contact their doctors before July 21 for evaluation and post-exposure treatment if appropriate. Those who are without a health provider can contact the HHSA Epidemiology Branch at (619)-692-8499.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread easily by coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with an infected person,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “Anyone who was in the Fallbrook Hospital emergency department or who traveled through the waiting room should watch for symptoms and contact their healthcare provider by telephone first, if they show any signs of the disease. We ask people to telephone the provider in advance so that infection control measures may be implemented to prevent exposure to others.”

Measles develop seven to 21 days after exposure. Early symptoms include cough, runny nose, and red eyes. The distinctive red rash usually appears one to four days after early symptoms appear. A person is considered contagious four days before the rash appears. The rash begins on the face and head then proceeds downward and outward to the hands and feet. It fades in the same order it began, from head to feet.

“Measles is spread through the air and is very infectious to persons who are not vaccinated, including infants under the age of 12 months who are too young to receive the first dose,” said Wooten. “The best way to prevent measles is by getting the measles vaccine.”

All persons born in 1957 or after should have documentation of at least one dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine or other evidence of immunity to measles. The CDC recommends two doses of the vaccine; the first at 12 months of age, and the second between ages 4 – 6.

Complications from measles are more common in children younger than 5 years old and adults 20 years and older. Complications can include diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. Death can occur from severe complications and the risk is higher among younger children and adults. There is no treatment for measles. Bed rest, fluids and fever control are recommended. People with complications may need treatment for their specific problem.

For more information about measles, other vaccine-preventable diseases and the shots that protect against them, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit the website at www.sdiz.org.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact