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Neighbors Growing Together | May 23, 2018

Measles exposure reported in Des Moines area

By Michaela Ramm, The Gazette | Apr 24, 2018

The Iowa Department of Public Health is warning Iowans who were in Des Moines or Ankeny earlier this month that they may have been exposed to measles.

State public health officials say an individual with a confirmed measles case traveled from Missouri to Iowa and visited two public locations in Des Moines and Ankeny, according to a Monday news release.

Anyone who was in the following locations at these times could have been exposed to measles:

l Hardee’s, excluding the drive-through, at 3621 Merle Hay Rd. in Des Moines on Friday, April 13, between 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

l Panera Bread at 2310 SE Delaware Ave. in Ankeny on Monday, April 16, between noon to 4 p.m.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of those who come physically close to that person also could become infected.

Measles, a virus the lives in the nose and throat mucus, is easily spread through the air. The virus can live up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed.

State public health officials emphasize that those who were exposed and are starting to exhibit symptoms of measles should stay home and avoid any public place as they could spread the disease further.

Individuals with symptoms should call their health care provider and make arrangements to be seen safely.

Do not go to the doctor’s office, emergency room or a walk-in clinic until arrangements have been made to be seen in a manner that would eliminate the risk of exposing others.

Symptoms typically begin with high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.

Individuals may have tiny white spots — called Koplik spots — appear on the inside of the mouth as well as a rash that appears about three to five days after the initial symptoms begin.

“It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet,” according to the CDC.

When the rash appears, the individual’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees.

In severe cases, measles can cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

There is no treatment for the illness.

According to the CDC, there were 118 cases of measles in the United States in 2017.

The agency estimates that there have been 34 people nationwide infected with the virus between Jan. 1 to March 30 of this year.

A vaccine for the virus was first developed in 1963. But before that, there were an estimated three to four million cases of measles a year, resulting in as many as 48,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 deaths, according to the CDC.

The last measles death in the United States occurred in 2015.

In 2000, the CDC declared measles “eliminated” in the United States, meaning there was an absence of continuous disease transmission for more than a year.

However, measles remains present in other countries and can be brought to the United States by unvaccinated travelers, including Americans and foreign visitors.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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