Measles Reported in Central Iowa

News

May 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed a case of the measles in a central Iowa resident who flew from Chicago to Des Moines earlier this month, and officials are looking for people who may have been exposed, the department said Tuesday.

The discovery is being treated as a public health emergency because measles spreads easily and can cause serious illness or even death. Symptoms of the measles include a cough, runny nose, pink eye and fever, and a rash can often develop a day or two later, said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the department’s medical director.

Local and state health officials are trying to determine who the unidentified Dallas County resident may have exposed to the illness so they can be checked and treated if needed. They’re looking for anyone who took a late-morning flight on May 11 from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and visited the main terminal and baggage area in Des Moines.

Officials also are seeking those who visited the Mercy Central Pediatric Clinic and the Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines on May 14. “You can walk into a room where somebody with the measles left two hours before that, and you’re still exposed,” Quinlisk said. “You can imagine what could happen at a hospital, a mall, an airport.

The Center for Disease Control is working with officials in Chicago to track down anyone who may have been exposed there, department spokeswoman Polly Carver-Kimm said. Officials want to ensure that anyone who visited those areas have received measles and mumps vaccines. Health officials said anyone who has not had measles before or has not adequately responded to two doses of vaccines – which amounts to less than 1 percent of the population – can catch the illness if exposed.

Two to three people out of 1,000 who get measles die from the disease, which is easily spread through the air. Prevention is critical because there is no treatment for the illness, authorities said.