Pockets of measles outbreaks are springing up all over the United States, and one of the most recent mass exposures occurred in a Sacramento emergency room.
Patients who visited UC Davis Health’s ER on March 17 received letters that said, “You will need to notify your primary health care provider(s) and your child’s provider(s) of this possible exposure to discuss your possible risk of infection, vaccination history, and other questions you may have.” The letters also mentioned family members who stayed in the waiting room, saying that they’d need to notify their health care providers, as well.
Measles is very contagious, and it spreads through coughing and sneezing. It can even live in the air for up to two hours where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Symptoms first appear within two weeks of infection, and people can spread the disease from four days before a rash appears to four days after.
Measles is rarely deadly in healthy people, but infants and the elderly, as well as those who have compromised immune systems are more likely to have life-threatening complications.
Rayna Souza, one of the letter’s recipients, was in the emergency room that day with her son, Jackson. Jackson was suffering from seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis – a condition that has caused him more than 100 brain tumors, which will eventually be fatal.
“When I found out, I felt mortified. My son’s already terminal,” said Souza. “I don’t have any area to risk any potential anything with him because I’m just, like, walking around him with a plastic bubble just trying to keep him here as long as I can.”
Souza said that a physician told her the source of the measles contamination was another child whose parents had not vaccinated her.
UC Davis Health Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Dr. Dean Blumberg, said, “Jackson was in the room, the emergency department room, where this other patient was seen. It was less than an hour separation between them. So, there was potentially still measles virus in the air.”
Because measles is so rare, it’s tough for many doctors to identify the disease. The original patient was in the hospital for days before she was diagnosed with measles.
What Do You Think?
Have you been following the measles outbreaks, and did you hear about the exposure in Sacramento? Do you feel that your community has done enough to protect the public? I’d love to hear your take on this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.