WICHITA, Kansas – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says there are three more measles cases confirmed in Sedgwick County.
It brings the total cases of measles to 11 in Sedgwick County in 2014.
The outbreak started in June.
“It starts with runny nose, just not feeling very well, red watery eyes so it can seem like just another virus,” said Adrienne Byrne-Lutz, Sedgwick County Health Department.
Now, there are more cases all tied to last week’s discovery of an employee with measles at Sumo.
“We kept in contact and watching and so we weren’t surprised when we added additional cases to that case count,” said Byrne-Lutz.
Across the state, 14 cases have been reported with the others in Johnson County.
Officials say the problem with measles spreading isn’t just that it feels and looks like a different virus.
“Measles can be spread to others four days before to four days after the rash appears,” said Aimee Rosenow, a spokesperson with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “So, someone has an onset, you really have to look back several days and forward several days before you can say they’re in the clear and no longer contagious.”
While county officials say both businesses involved, Sal’s and Sumo, are in the clear now, they are urging everyone to take advantage of the free MMR vaccine being offered this week.
“It’s still important to get vaccinated. It’s still important if someone was wondering if they really needed it, so they didn’t come on Saturday,” states Byrne-Lutz. “Take the opportunity to get vaccinated when there’s no out of pocket costs associated and come on in to the clinic.”
County officials say if no other cases pop up in the next week or so, they’ll consider the outbreak contained, however if more do develop they will continue to offer the vaccine for free for walk-ins.
Measles outbreak in Kansas
Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. The signs and symptoms of measles typically begin one to two weeks after someone is exposed to an infected person. Symptoms include:
- Blotchy rash on the skin, which spreads from the head to the trunk then to the lower extremities (Measles can be spread to others from four days before to four days after the rash appears.)
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Feeling run down, achy
- Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik spots)
People at high risk for severe illness and complications from measles include infants and children aged 20 years, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.
What causes measles to spread
Outbreaks in countries to which Americans often travel can directly contribute to an increase in measles cases in the U.S.
Reasons for an increase in cases some years:
- 2014: The Philippines is experiencing a large, ongoing measles outbreak. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 have been associated with cases brought in from the Philippines. For more information see the Measles in the Philippines Travelers’ Health Notice.
- 2013: The U.S. experienced 11 outbreaks in 2013, three of which had more than 20 cases, including an outbreak with 58 cases. For more information see Measles-United States, January 1-August 24, 2013.
- 2011: In 2011, more than 30 countries in the WHO European Region reported an increase in measles, and France was experiencing a large outbreak. Most of the cases that were brought to the U.S. in 2011 came from France. For more information see Measles—United States, January–May 20, 2011.
- 2008: The increase in cases in 2008 was the result of spread in communities with groups of unvaccinated people. The U.S. experienced several outbreaks in 2008 including three large outbreaks. For more information see Update: Measles—United States, January–July 2008.
See also: The Surveillance Manual chapter on measles that describes case investigation, outbreak investigation, and outbreak control for additional information.