Indiana Department of Health reports first measles case since 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — A case of measles has been confirmed in Indiana for the first time in five years.

According to a press release from the Indiana Department of Public Health, a case of measles was identified in a Lake County resident. IDOH reported that it is investigating the case alongside local health officials.

Officials believe the case of measles identified in Lake County does not pose a larger threat to area residents.

IDOH indicated that 93% of people who receive one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine will develop immunity to measles. More than 97% of people are protected from measles if they receive two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“Measles is easily spread and can be serious, especially for young children,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Lindsay Weaver said via press release. “About one in five unvaccinated people in the United States who get measles is hospitalized, and 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will become sick. This case is a good reminder that you are at risk if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

The measles case identified in Lake County comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to monitor a rise in measles cases across the U.S. From Dec. 1, 2023, to Jan. 31, 2024, 23 cases of measles were confirmed. IDOH reported that 20 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. since the start of 2024.

California, Louisiana and Florida are among the other states that have reported cases of measles in the last few weeks.

The IDOH described measles as a “highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus.” Officials also indicated that cases of measles are rare in the U.S. because of the widespread availability of the MMR vaccine. Visitors from other countries or U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become infected during travel, per IDOH.

The state department of health is offering free MMR vaccinations at three different sites across the northwest Indiana. The Gary and East Chicago health departments will both offer free MMR vaccinations from 3-7 p.m. (CT) on Feb. 28. Jean Shephard Community Center in Hammond will offer free MMR vaccinations during the same time on Feb. 28.

IDOH reported that children are routinely vaccinated for measles at 12-15 months and again at 4-6 years of age. Children as young as six months old can receive the measles vaccine if they are at risk.

State health officials indicated that measles symptoms begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Fevers can soar as high as 105 degrees.

According to a press release, tiny white spots — also known as Koplik spots — may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin. A rash may also start forming on the hairline and face after two or three days. The rash can spread to the arms, hands, legs and feet.

IDOH reported that measles can be highly contagious because it is spread when people sneeze or cough and release droplets into the air. The droplets can remain infective in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

IDOH encourages those experiencing measles symptoms to stay home, call a healthcare provider right away and before going to the doctor’s office and stay away from others. Indiana’s health department information center is available to take calls at 1-800-382-1563 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Additional information on measles is available on IDOH’s website or via the CDC’s website.

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