DOH Pinellas: 3 cases of measles reported in 3 days

- Two more people have come down with measles in Pinellas County, bringing the total to three cases in as many days.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH-Pinellas) says the two new infected individuals live in the same household and were not vaccinated.

The previous case lives in a different household. DOH-Pinellas says all of the cases were acquired locally.

The first case was announced on August 13. These are the first cases of measles in Pinellas County since 1998.

DOH-Pinellas says it is trying to identify and notify anyone exposed to the virus.

The department says anyone who has not been immunized should get vaccinated.

This comes as the CDC announced it is monitoring an outbreak of measles across Florida, 20 other states and Washington D.C. They say 107 are affected and the majority of them were not vaccinated. While it's possible to contract measles even after being immunized, it's extremely rare.

Dr. Jose Montero, an infectious diseases doctor with Tampa General Hospital and USF Health has seen and treated just about every infectious disease.

"There was over a 99% reduction in measles cases with the introduction of the vaccine to the point where, my generation of physicians, we don't see measles anymore," Montero said.

Though there are a variety of reasons why some parents choose not to vaccinate their kids, whether religious, medical or person, he's urging everyone to take the risks of not getting vaccinated seriously.

"That vaccine has been really scrutinized a lot but the reality is, it's a really safe vaccine," Montero said. "There are a few people that can not get it for truly medical reasons and if you are a brother, sister, uncle, family member or someone who is around and happen, yourself, to choose not to get the vaccine, you're not just posing the risk to yourself, you're posing a risk to the people who can truly not get that vaccine."

"It is very highly contagious," Montero said. "It has an attack rate over 90%. That means 9 out of 10 people who are unvaccinated in a place when someone has measles, 9 out of 10 people will be infected."

DOH-Pinellas says measles is a virus that is easily spread by air droplets when infected persons breathe, cough, or sneeze. The first symptoms are a high fever that may spike to 105° F, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. These symptoms are followed by a blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the feet. Measles is a potentially severe disease, especially young children and persons with compromised immune systems. Complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.

Two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine are recommended routinely for children, with the first dose at age 12 through 15 months and the second dose at ages four through six years. Adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine, with a second dose recommended for those at higher risk such as international travelers and health care workers.

Unvaccinated individuals who are exposed to measles may be excluded for up to 21 days from public places such as school and work where they could infect others.

For further information about measles in Florida, please visit www.floridahealth.gov/measles.

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