Elderly man diagnosed with measles in Pinellas County

Now that a case of measles has been confirmed in Pinellas County, Dr. Jason Wilson of Tampa General Hospital is ready with answers.

"It is just a matter of time until people get concerned about this," he said.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed Thursday an elderly man in Pinellas County has been diagnosed with measles.

Health officials said the 72-year-old man had traveled to Asia, but did not provide any other details.

“We thought it was eradicated years ago, and now we're seeing cases popping up,” said Maggie Hall with the Health Department’s Pinellas County office.

Doctors say they are confident in the vaccine's effectiveness, but they're also insistent that pack mentality matters. 

"If the patient comes in and says, 'I was exposed to a person with measles, but I have had the vaccine. There is no other concern now,'" Wilson said.

If everyone is vaccinated, those who travel from places where it's not universally given, won't cause outbreaks. 

But what about those under a year, who are too young to get vaccinated?

"I wish I could give you a magic answer, the bottom line is that is a concern," Dr. Wilson said.

A USF study shows what would happen in the Bay Area after a year. At current vaccination rates, they expect 16 cases. 

But if vaccination rates drop by just 10 percent, the number of cases rises to 18,673.

"Our concern is what it will do to the public health system in trying to handle those cases and trying to deal with all those people," said Karen Liller of the USF school of public health.

The CDC says two out of 1,000 measles cases in kids can lead to death. Pinellas County health officials are hoping word of danger spreads faster than measles.

"It was eradicated at one point, and now we are seeing cases popping up," said Pinellas health spokesperson Maggie Hall. "The importance of vaccines and good hygiene and protection is so important. 

Because it is so effective, the CDC is not recommending a booster for the measles vaccine. However, if you’re unsure if you’re vaccinated, getting re-vaccinated isn’t harmful.

Anyone older than 12 months of age should receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, the Department of Health said. Anyone who thinks they have not had a vaccine or have not had measles, Pinellas County is offering vaccinations at several locations

Vaccines for babies, children and teens up to 18 years old are available at no cost at the Department of Health clinics in Pinellas. Adults can also get the MMR II vaccine for $85.67 at the following locations with no appointment necessary:

-St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N
-Pinellas Park: 6350 76 Ave N
-Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Rd
-Clearwater: 310 N Myrtle Ave
-Tarpon Springs: 301 S Disston Ave

The Department of Health said measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. Symptoms generally begin approximately seven to 14 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and rash.

LINK: For more information on measles, visit the Florida Department of Health's website.