The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has wrapped up their investigation into any potential measles exposure in the state.
The investigation began in early April after health officials warned that an out-of-state traveler from Tennessee may have exposed Mississippians to the airborne virus at three locations in Hattiesburg. The incubation period for measles has now passed, and no cases were reported in Mississippi.
“The incubation period for developing measles from exposure to this traveler has passed. Any potential measles exposure would have developed symptoms by now,” said MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
Dr. Dobbs noted that the state’s strong immunization laws likely played a part in protecting those who may have come in contact with the traveler.
“We are grateful that, because of our strong immunization laws, Mississippians were protected from infection. More than 99 percent of Mississippi school-aged children have received a complete dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine,” he said.
Dobbs added that there are currently several active outbreaks of measles throughout the nation and in other countries, and measles is spreading rapidly in unvaccinated groups.
“This could easily happen again, so it is important that all Mississippians make sure that they are up to date on their measles vaccinations to avoid future risks,” he said.
Measles is a serious respiratory disease of the lungs and breathing tubes that starts with a high fever, followed soon after by a cough, runny nose and red eyes. On the third to seventh day of illness, a rash of tiny, red spots appears. The rash starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms usually appear about 11 days after exposure with a range of seven to 21 days.
Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is very contagious, with the virus lingering in a room where a person with measles has been for up to two hours.
Measles can be serious. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and death. Young children are at higher risk for complications, especially those under 12 months old who are too young to receive the measles vaccination.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers recently stated that 1 in 4 people infected with measles may be hospitalized, and for some, the virus could be deadly.
“About 1 or 2 out of every 1,000 people infected with measles may die,” Dr. Byers explained.
During the investigation, the MSDH continued to remind everyone to make sure that you and your families are up to date on your vaccinations.