Measles confirmed in Pittsburgh, health officials say
An Allegheny County resident has tested positive for measles, making it the year’s first case in the state as the nation grapples with an outbreak, officials said.
The Allegheny County Health Department confirmed the case Tuesday, identifying the affected person as an unvaccinated adult who had recently traveled internationally.
The person was treated Monday at the UPMC Shadyside emergency room and is recovering at home.
Nate Wardle, spokesman for the state Department of Health, said this is the only confirmed case of measles in the state this year.
County health department officials said the case isn’t linked to any ongoing measles outbreak, but did not elaborate.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease physician, said doctors are able to pinpoint which outbreak a person is linked to by identifying the strain of measles they carry.
The person was potentially contagious beginning April 25, and exposures may have occurred at the Giant Eagle Market District, 5550 Centre Ave., from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and 2:45 to 5 p.m. Sunday and at the Aldi store at 5631 Baum Blvd. from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. Friday.
“There could be potential for exposures and for more cases based on this exposure, especially at a grocery store where there may be children there that are too young to be vaccinated,” Adalja said.
Adalja said Allegheny County has a high rate of vaccinated people, but the potential is still there for others to contract measles.
“It’s not surprising that we had a case in Pittsburgh,” he said. “Every year, Pennsylvania has cases of measles.”
He said anyone born after 1989 who received two doses of the vaccine is about 97% protected. Anyone born 1957 and before is protected from natural immunity because the disease was so prevalent at that time. He said the people born between 1957 and 1989 likely only received one dose and are around 93% protected.
If someone is unsure about their vaccination history, Adalja said, they could talk to their doctor about getting another dose of the vaccine.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in somebody getting a second dose of the vaccine,” he said.
The health department is urging anyone who is susceptible to measles or who may have been in the same locations during the indicated times who becomes ill with symptoms of measles to contact their primary care provider immediately. Symptoms would be seen between now and May 20.
Measles is a highly contagious but vaccine- preventable disease that spreads through coughing, sneezing or other contact with the mucus or saliva of an infected person. Symptoms typically appear one to three weeks after infection and include rash, high fever, cough and red, watery eyes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said it has confirmed 704 cases of measles this year as of Friday, the largest number of cases in the U.S. in a single year since 1994 and the largest number of cases since measles were considered eliminated from the U.S. in 2000.