Anchorage, AK – The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has confirmed a single case of measles in an unvaccinated teenager from the Kenai Peninsula who recently traveled out of state to Arizona via
This makes Alaska the 29th state to have a confirmed case of measles in 2019. The DHSS Public Health Laboratory in Fairbanks confirmed the diagnosis at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Only people who may have been exposed and are not already immune to measles either by adequate immunization or from having the disease in the past are at immediate risk.
Some people may have been exposed to measles through this confirmed case. A list of possible exposure locations include Central Peninsula Hospital, Emergency department, Soldotna Urgent Care, and Froso’s Family Dining, from July 8-14. The patient has been isolated at home since then and is recovering.
Epidemiologists have also been in contact with health officials in Arizona and Washington. It’s not yet known specifically where the exposure occurred.
The last confirmed case of measles in an Alaskan patient was diagnosed in 2015 in Fairbanks. That was after almost 15 years with no measles cases. In August 2018, a measles case was confirmed in an out-of-state cruise ship passenger that was bound for Alaska. Fortunately, that case did not lead to any additional cases of measles in Alaska.
Signs of measles may appear between 7 to 21 days after exposure (average of 14 days) so those who may have been exposed should watch for signs of illness. Measles often starts with a fever (as high as 105°F), cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. A rash follows that usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. If anyone thinks they might have measles, they should call their health care provider or local public health center immediately. It’s important to get care quickly, but people should call firstand not go directly to the doctor’s office, clinic or school. Health care providers may have instructions to prevent exposing others to an infectious disease.
The MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is the best defense against measles and will also help prevent the disease from spreading further in Alaska. When enough people are vaccinated against measles, the entire community is afforded protection.