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Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: February 2, 2015
DOVER (January 30, 2015) - The Delaware Division of Public Health announced today the state's first case of measles since 2012 in a New Castle County woman in her late 20s. The case was contracted internationally and is not linked to a recent outbreak in the U.S. The Division of Public Health (DPH) is monitoring the woman's close contacts and no others are showing symptoms at this time. She was briefly hospitalized and is now recovering at home.
"This case and the recent outbreak in the U.S. reminds us of the importance of vaccination against measles," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Division Director. "The disease was considered eliminated in this country in 2000 but cases have been growing again in the last few years likely due to pockets of unvaccinated individuals in the U.S. and international travel to countries where the disease is still endemic. Vaccination remains the best protection."
The measle vaccine is highly effective. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus and two doses is about 97% effective. Delaware requires that school-age children be vaccinated against measles.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Infected people can spread the disease from up to four days before and four days after the rash appears. About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea. Complications are more common in adults and young children.
Delaware's most recent measles case was in 2012, and the latest case is only the third confirmed case in the past five years.
"The DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology is monitoring anyone who is at-risk of contracting the measles from the local case," said Dr. Awele Madukah-Ezeh, DPH Medical Director and an infectious disease specialist. "No one is showing symptoms at this time. However, we must be vigilant and we will cease monitoring only after the incubation period has passed which is 7-21 days following exposure. The known contacts of the case are up to date on their measles vaccinations."
Being up-to-date on the vaccination significantly reduces the likelihood of developing the disease. Measles is a "reportable disease" in Delaware and so by law it must be reported to public health. For further information call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156.
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.