Health

Friday, Aug 16 2013 06:37 PM

Health officials on lookout for measles after case found in Kern visitor

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Public health officials are warning folks to watch out for symptoms of measles after a 16-year-old girl infected with the disease traveled through the Ridgecrest area.

The girl, who was from Europe, visited eastern Kern County on Aug. 11 and 12.

"We were notified by the state because the (girl) ended up getting diagnosed in another county," said Denise Smith, Director of Disease Control.

The measles virus is extremely contagious and can linger in an environment for up to two hours after the infected person has left. People who are exposed and have not been vaccinated against the disease could become sick 8 to 21 days later.

"We are currently investigating (where she visited) so we can make sure that we try to get ahold of as many individuals that may have been exposed," Smith said.

The recommended protection against measles is two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Early signs of measles are a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, health officials said. The fever burns as high as 104 to 105 degrees, followed by a red blotchy, raised rash, which usually shows up on the face, along the hairline and behind the ears. The rash spreads downward quickly to the chest and back, then to the thighs and feet, public health officials said.

Anyone who has these symptoms should stay home and not go out in public, including to work or school. Call your health care providers for directions on what to do. If you decide to go to the doctor, alert the facility that you may have symptoms of measles before you go so other people are not exposed.

Measles is rare and Kern County's last case was in 2004.

"The most important thing right now is to check your vaccination status. Make sure that you're protected," Smith said.

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