Nearly 100 people have been tested in connection with a measles case that state health officials are treating as a “public health emergency.” Most of the people were passengers on a flight from Chicago to Des Moines on May 11. A child, who later tested positive for the measles, was on the American Airlines plane (flight 3965).
Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says measles is easily spread and can cause serious illness. “It can cause permanent damage, such as brain damage. Even with good medical care…it can still cause people to die,” Quinlisk said. “So, we take this disease very seriously and want to make sure we stop anybody from getting the measles if we can.”
Iowans who were on the flight or visited Mercy Central Pediatric Clinic or Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines on May 14 may’ve been exposed to the measles. The symptoms include fever, cough, red/pink eyes, runny nose and a rash.
Quinlisk says people who suspect they have the measles should NOT go directly to the ER or their doctor’s office. “What you need to do is call your health care provider ahead of time…and they will arrange for you to be seen in a way that is safe for the health care provider and you’re not spreading it to other patients,” Quinlisk said.
Iowans who are not sure if they’ve received two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccines should contact their health care provider. Quinlisk says people who are vaccinated have a 99-percent chance of never getting the measles – even if they’re exposed to the disease. Those older than their mid-50s and know that they had measles as a child do not need to be vaccinated.
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