The first locally acquired case of measles reported in Salt Lake County since September 1986 has prompted the Utah Health Department to urge citizens to get their children immunized.
"Our warning is that measles can occur in any child who is not properly immunized," state epidemiologist Craig Nichols said Thursday. "There are severe complications from the disease, including pneumonia and encephalitis."Nichols said the symptoms include a fever greater than 101 degrees, a cough, runny nose, or eye inflammation. "Children with measles will also have a raised red rash that will last for at least three days," he said. "A lot of people still call measles `hard or red measles' because the child has a severe illness."
Nichols said an outbreak of measles has been reported in Montana. Sixty-five cases of rubeola measles have been found in Kalispell and Butte, a Montana health official said. Public health officials have started immunization programs in both cities.
"Children under 15 months of age who will be traveling to affected areas should be immunized a week before they leave," Nichols said. "However the vaccine is found to be effective 72 hours after exposure to a case."
Nichols said the measles vaccine is usually given to children 15 months of age. In a severe outbreak, younger children could be immunized. But the vaccine isn't as effective.
The specialist said those unsure about whether they're immune should consult a family physician.
"But anyone born prior to 1956 should be considered immune," Nichols said. "These people were around during the years of major measle outbreaks and had the disease. They developed protective anitbodies and therefore are no longer at risk for developing an infection."