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Concern about spread of highly contagious measles after new case in Maryland

Maryland health department issues alert after report of new measles case
Maryland health department issues alert after report of new measles case 02:41

BALTIMORE -- Measles is one of the most contagious diseases—spread in the air, by touch, and through saliva. It can cause a high fever, rash, and potentially dangerous complications, especially for children.

Maryland's health department notified the public about a positive case in Montgomery County. The patient traveled through Dulles Airport and went to the emergency room at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda last Saturday. Suburban is part of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Doctor Scott Krugman of Sinai Hospital told WJZ people in the Baltimore area should still be concerned. 

"Once you see one case, there are probably a bunch more out there that are going to show up, so I think that's why there is concern," Dr. Krugman said.

He added, "Measles is ten times more infectious than COVID. If you're exposed, there's a good chance you're going to get it if you're not vaccinated."

A CBS News Innovation Lab investigation identified at least 8,500 schools nationwide where measles vaccination rates among kindergartners are below the 95 percent threshold that the CDC identifies as crucial for protecting a community from measles.

In Maryland, CDC numbers from the 2021-2022 school year show 93.9% of children are vaccinated.

Just 1.5% have exemptions.

This school year, there were 61 schools with rates less than 95 percent out of a total of more than 1,000 schools whose data the Innovation Lab analyzed.

Nearly all schools were adequately protected across the eight years of data CBS News examined.

You can search for information about your child's school here.

Since mid-December, there have been confirmed cases in the Philadelphia area, the Washington, D.C. suburbs, as well as Delaware and New Jersey. 

"It's slowly been filtering closer and closer to Maryland. There are cases in Philadelphia. There have been cases throughout Europe, and we know that people travel a lot," Dr. Krugman said. "Any time you travel, you're at risk for bringing diseases back. I think this is just the first shot, and we're going to see a lot more cases in the coming weeks and months to be honest with you."

Dr. Krugman noted it is not too late to get your children vaccinated if they have been exposed to the measles. 

"Even if your child is exposed, we can give the vaccine that next day and prevent the disease from happening," he said. 

You can read more about measles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the World Health Organization.

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