MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) says it is currently investigating 32 open reports of measles in Alabama, though there are currently no confirmed cases. As of May 1, the ADPH reports they have conducted 174 investigations in 2019.
The ADPH says it receives numerous reports every day for notifiable diseases which include specific diseases, any diseases of public health importance and outbreaks of any kind. For a report to be confirmed, it must meet certain requirements. Only after that will the ADPH notify the public.
The Department urges everyone to know their measles vaccine status. If you have never been vaccinated and were born after 1956, they strongly encourage people to obtain an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) from a healthcare provider or pharmacy.
The ADPH vaccine efforts primarily focus on children under 19 years of age. They offer a free MMR vaccine that is available for children participating in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program and for people who qualify based upon local health department fee schedules.
The department says they have a very limited supply of MMR vaccine for adults and urges those with insurance and other coverage such as Medicaid to be vaccinated at their pharmacy or provider. About 95 percent or more of unvaccinated people exposed to a single case of measles will contract the disease.
For every single case of measles disease, 12-18 additional cases can be expected. The complication rate from measles is about 20-30 percent, especially in infants, children less than 5 years of age, and persons 20 years and older. Complications can range from ear infections and pneumonia to deadly encephalitis. For every 1,000 people with measles, one to two people will die.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of measles that occur before the rash. Patients develop fever, sometimes as high as 105 degrees, followed by cough, runny nose, and red eyes (conjunctivitis). Anywhere from 1-7 days after these symptoms begin, the rash develops. The rash starts on the face and spreads across the body. Patients may also have small white spots on the inside of the mouth on the cheek which may occur from 2 days before and up to 2 days after the rash.
From the time that a person is exposed to measles, it can take 7-21 days for signs and symptoms to occur with an average of 10-14 days. People are contagious from four days before the rash develops until four days after.