Pinellas Health Department investigating measles case in 72-year-old man

The man recently traveled to Asia. It’s the first case of measles reported in Pinellas this year.
Health authorities encourage the use of measles vaccines, like the dose pictured, to head off a rise in the spread of the disease. [Associated Press]
Health authorities encourage the use of measles vaccines, like the dose pictured, to head off a rise in the spread of the disease. [Associated Press]
Published April 25
Updated April 25

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas is investigating a measles case in a 72-year-old man who recently traveled to Asia.

The investigation is ongoing and the Health Department did not release other details.

This is the first reported case of measles in Pinellas County this year. Last summer, the department investigated three cases of measles in unvaccinated adults. They were the first reported cases of measles in Pinellas County in 20 years.

Since January, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention have reported 626 individual cases of measles in 22 states. This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the United States since measles was considered "eliminated" in 2000, according to the CDC, and second only to the 667 cases reported in 2014. Health officials anticipate the number of outbreaks to surpass the 2014 numbers this year.

Measles is a virus that spreads in the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The first symptoms are a fever that could spike to 105 degrees, a persistent cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. A blotchy rash can spread from the head to the feet, according to the Health Department.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: In Pinellas, three cases of the measles revive concerns about those who don’t vaccinate

If untreated, measles can become severe, especially in young children and people with compromised immune systems.

The Health Department recommends that anyone older than 12 months receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for protection. Vaccines are provided free at Health Department clinics in Pinellas County to babies, children and teens up to 18. For adults, the MMR vaccine costs $85.67. Adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine, and those with higher risk, such as international travelers and health-care workers, should receive a second dose.

Health-care providers in Pinellas, including hospital emergency departments, are encouraged to stay on "high alert" and to report cases to the Health Department, according to a news release.

Those who are not vaccinated but are exposed to measles should avoid public places, like school and work, for up to 21 days. The Health Department urges anyone experiencing symptoms of measles to see a health care provider and everyone is encouraged to report suspected cases.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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