Rhode Island responds to potential measles exposures

The Rhode Island Department of Health announced on Sunday that it is working with health officials to notify patients who may have been exposed to an individual with measles.

A patient with measles was treated for a sore throat and fever on February 25 at the Roger Williams Medical Center. After developing a rash, the patient was seen on February 28 at the CVS Minute Clinic in North Attleboro, Mass.

The patient was then referred to the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Department, which he visited early on March 1. He was later discharged to home isolation.

While the diagnosis of measles was not confirmed by laboratory studies, the case met U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for a probable measles case. The Rhode Island Department of Health and the CDC recommend that individuals who were potentially exposed to the index case be identified and update their vaccination status.

Measles is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread into the air when an infected person coughs or talks. The virus can stay up in the air for up to two hours after the contagious person has left the room.

Symptoms of measles appear 10 to 14 days after exposure and include runny nose, high fever, cough and red, watery eyes. A few days later, a red, blotchy rash begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

The disease lasts approximately a week or two. While most people recover without any lasting issues, complications such as pneumonia and brain infections occur in rare cases.

The best protection against measles after exposure is vaccination within three days. Measles vaccine is included in the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, also known as MMR.