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Pennsylvania health officials warn about measles exposure in Philadelphia region

Health officials warn about measles exposure in Philly region
Health officials warn about measles exposure in Philly region 00:45

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Officials in Pennsylvania are warning about possible measles exposures in the Philadelphia region. 

The Philadelphia Health Department joined the Montgomery County and Pennsylvania departments Monday to warn people about three locations where measles exposures could have happened — a CVS pharmacy at 10901 Bustleton Avenue in Philadelphia on May 15 and the Holy Redeemer Hospital emergency department and medical-surgical unit in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania, on May 16 and 17. 

Health officials do not believe there is a risk to the public from this case of measles, Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen said in a statement from the health departments. 

The departments recommend people who are planning to travel outside the U.S. speak with their health care providers about vaccinations they might need and, if they were at the locations in the warning, to make sure they are protected against measles. 

The warning comes after a measles outbreak started in the Philadelphia area late in 2023. That outbreak ended earlier this year and infected nine people, including six children. The World Health Organization has warned that measles is on the rise globally because of declining vaccination rates, a trend that includes the United States

Dr. Richard Lorraine, medical director at the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, said people who were potentially exposed have been identified and are being notified. He said it is likely that the same person was at both the CVS and hospital locations. Those who were exposed and are not immune are being advised to quarantine, he said. 

Lorraine said the three health departments have been working closely together.

This case of measles likely came from travel, Lorraine said. He added that some people don't realize the riskiness of diseases like measles and mumps that are rare today because of vaccines.

"The benefit of MMR vaccination is extremely high — we're preventing some pretty significant diseases that can cause death," he said. "The risk of the vaccine is very, very small. There's been some negative publicity that has been mostly disproven." 

Those who have been vaccinated "really don't have that much to worry about," he said.

What is measles and how is it prevented? 

Measles is caused by a virus and is extremely contagious. The symptoms include a high fever, a dry cough, general aches and pains and a rash that starts on the arms and legs before spreading further, Lorraine said.

Protection from measles is included in the shot for measles, mumps and rubella, known as the MMR vaccine, which is typically given to children in two doses, one at 12 to 15 months and another at 4 to 6 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's also part of the MMRV vaccine, which includes varicella (chicken pox). The vaccine is safe.

READ MORE: After measles exposures in Philadelphia region, what you need to know about the virus, symptoms and vaccine

Adults can be vaccinated, too, as needed. A blood test can help adults determine whether they are immune to measles, Lorraine said.

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