Loudoun County health officials are warning residents in Northern Virginia to be on the lookout for measles symptoms.
Measles seems to be on the move. Health officials are specifically warning patients who received treatment at Inova Medical Center in Purcellville on August 17 and the 2 Riverbend Building in Lansdowne on August 20 that they may have been exposed to a patient with measles.
As of right now, Virginia health officials do not believe there are other locations where exposure may have occurred, but their list of places may grow as more information becomes available.
People who contract the measles virus typically develop symptoms one to two weeks after infection. Initial symptoms are usually a combination of red, watery eyes, a high fever, a runny nose, and a cough. While these early symptoms can be indistinguishable from a common cold or allergies, a couple of days after symptoms manifest, measles victims start developing white spots on the inside of their mouth. Days later, patients start developing a rash that typically begins on their face and then spreads across the body. Measles can be fatal, especially in the young, elderly, or immuno-compromised. Even if not fatal, the disease can cause blindness and brain damage if left untreated.
Thought to be eradicated half a century ago, measles is making a comeback, with the United States seeing a dramatic increase in cases as more people choose to opt out of receiving the MMR vaccine. In 2017, there were 118 measles cases spread across 15 states. Just eight months into 2018, there are already 124 confirmed measles cases in at least 22 states and the District of Columbia.
While not necessarily connected to this incident, Europe is currently experiencing its largest measles outbreak in over a decade. The World Health Organization has blamed the rise in measles cases both in Europe and the United States on fewer people getting vaccinated. Experts believe that the measles vaccine has become a victim of its own success. As fewer people contracted the virus thanks to the vaccinations, many began to think that the vaccine was no longer necessary.
If you visited one of these health centers on those specific days or you begin to notice symptoms, please seek out medical treatment as soon as possible.
Have you had any contact with a measles case? Tell us in the comments below!