The Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed three cases of measles in the state — one on Maui and two on Kauai.
The cases on the two islands are not related to each other and have separate travel histories, but all cases involve unvaccinated young adults with recent travel either to the Philippines or Indonesia and Malaysia, officials said.
“In this scenario, these people are clearly old enough to be vaccinated and weren’t,” said Dr. Sarah Y. Park, state epidemiologist. “The more these pockets of unvaccinated grow, then you introduce disease. Not only are the unvaccinated people at risk and get disease, potentially you start to see disease in people who did get vaccination but are still vulnerable and it becomes more and more of a problem.”
Since January, there have been 594 cases of measles reported in 22 states according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including two cases in Hawaii reported earlier this year in February. With the additional recently confirmed cases, Hawaii now has a total of five confirmed cases reported in the state this year.
“Measles is highly contagious, spreading through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing, and infecting 90 percent of the contacts who are not immune,” Park said. “Measles outbreaks continue to occur both internationally and on the mainland, especially in areas where vaccination is declining. As travel increases during the holiday season, so does our chance of seeing more cases.”
The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated. DOH is urging everyone to check their immunization status and contact their healthcare provider if they need to be vaccinated.
The symptoms of measles generally begin about 14 days (range seven to 21 days) after a person is infected and may include:
- Blotchy red rash
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
- Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots — not always present)
People who suspect they have measles should call their doctor right away and isolate themselves from others to help contain the spread of illness.
DOH staff continue to work closely with healthcare providers and facilities as well as CDC’s Honolulu Quarantine Station to identify and notify persons who may have been exposed.
Click here for more information.