Health department warns Hoosiers of increase of measles cases

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– We’re less than 30 days away from the Indianapolis 500. Thousands of people will soon head to the Hoosier state from all over the world and health officials want you prepared. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a warning about the number of measles cases in the United States.

From January 1 to April 26, 2019, 704 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states including Indiana. This is an increase of 78 cases from the previous week, according to the CDC. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Race fans come from all over the world, 300,000 people packed tight at the track. Fans bring the enthusiasm, but also the chance for measles.

“I think if you drink enough beer, it kind of inhibits the measles virus, so that’s been my defense,” said Mike Dain, a local  race fan.

All joking aside, there’s one way to make sure you don’t become part of the 704 cases of measles already reported this year. In Indiana, one case was reported on April 5. A person in northern Indiana who recently spent time in other countries had been diagnosed with measles, state health officials say. The person spent time at a hotel and restaurant in Indianapolis but did not live here.

“Whether you’re with 200 people or 2,000 people, having an MMR vaccine will be your best protection,” said Payton Revolt, the Vaccine Preventable Disease Epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health.

Measles continues to spread throughout the world. Here in the United States, children typically get the first vaccine between 12 and 14 months old. Then, a second vaccine between four and six years old. Revolt says it’s 97 percent effective against measles. If adults can’t remember if they had  the vaccine or can’t find their records, Revolt suggests you check with your doctor and see what the best option would be for you.

“There is no harm in receiving an additional vaccine for measles. So, if an adult is not sure of their vaccination status it’s best they check with their health care provider and get recommendations on receiving another dose,” said Revolt.

So what are the symptoms of the measles?

“Measles starts as cold symptoms. Cough, pink eye, runny nose, maybe a low-grade fever, a fever of 101,” said Revolt. “Then a few days later a rash will start, and you’ll see a spike in the fever. The rash does start at the hair line and spreads down and out over the body. That takes a couple of days to progress over the whole body.”

The Indiana State Department of Health suggests if you believe you have measles, to call ahead to your doctor before showing up.

“Call ahead,” suggested Revolt. “Whether you’re doing to a provider or an emergency department, so they’re prepared for anytime of case that’s coming in their doors.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) President Doug Boles says they have the recent measles and mumps cases on their radar.

“What we’re trying to do along with the state is educate people when they’re coming, that if you haven’t been vaccinated and you’ve been exposed to it, you probably should stay home. You shouldn’t come out,” said Boles.  “We do have an emergency room in there, busiest emergency room in the country from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We deal with everything you deal with in a city from heart attacks, to births, to people who have had too much to drink, and disease like the measles and mumps. So, it’s definitely something that’s on our radar.”

According to the CDC, before 2019, the highest number of measles cases occurred in 2014, with 667 cases reported.

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