Health alert: Oahu infant hospitalized for measles

A highly contagious disease is causing concern in some parts of the country including Hawaii.

State health officials are investigating a case of the measles involving an Oahu baby, who contracted the disease while in the Philippines. The infant, who was not vaccinated, is recovering in the hospital.

The state is worried more people could be infected.

An Oahu mom was traveling back home with her baby last week, when she noticed the 11-month-old boy, wasn’t himself.

“Hadn’t broken out into the rash yet, but started having fever little bit, feeling sick. Vomited on the plane, stuff like that,” state Department of Health epidemiologist. Dr. Sarah Park said.

Dr. Park said the family was returning from the Philippines, where the mother knew, they had been exposed to measles.

After visiting two pediatricians and the emergency rooms of Wahiawa General and Kapiolani Medical Center, the infant was diagnosed with measles.

“Unless you see these kids day in and day out, anyone could miss it still, because we’re not used to seeing it,” Dr. Park said.

This disease is highly contagious even more than the flu.

That’s why the state is concerned that more people could have become infected, not just at the hospitals, but during the baby’s trip. The family left the Philippines and had a layover in Guam, before returning to Honolulu. The baby was not vaccinated because children cannot receive a vaccine until they are a year old. Some parents decide against the vaccine, but the parents we talked to recognize its importance.

“With those vaccinations, we prevent the spread of different diseases and we can control it this way,” parent Mor Rotmensch said.

“Yeah I thought it was important just in general, something as serious as measles. Sounds life-threatening,” parent Koni Puloka said.

Symptoms include a rash, fever and a cough.

Complications from this disease include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and death.

The state is working with the airlines, the CDC and hospitals to figure out who might have been exposed.

If you think there’s a chance you may have the measles, contact your doctor.

The disease is highly contagious so health experts say people should isolate themselves rom others to help contain the spread of the disease.

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, click here. People without health insurance may call Aloha United Way 2-1-1 for assistance.

For more information on measles, including a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

Photo: Courtesy Hawaii State Department of Health

Related story: BART rider & UC Berkeley student infected with measles potentially exposed thousands

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