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Johns Hopkins Remains Vigilant Amid Measles Outbreak
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The number of measles cases in the U.S. this year is already the highest reported in more than 25 years. Johns Hopkins has put into place plans and processes to keep patients, visitors and staff members safe.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that can be spread to others by coughing or sneezing. At best, measles is a very uncomfortable illness. At worst, it can be lethal — thousands of people around the world die from measles each year. Most commonly, the infection causes high fever, cough, conjunctivitis (red, runny eyes), runny nose, and a rash that begins on the face and eventually covers the entire body.
While measles was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the illness is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Many of the new cases surfacing in the U.S. are believed to be travel-related or due to secondary transmission of the virus among unvaccinated people.
The good news is that measles is preventable with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) recommend that people who haven’t had measles or received the immunization get vaccinated.
“The increase in measles cases is concerning, and we are continuing to monitor activity around the U.S. and abroad,” says Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and CEPAR’s senior adviser and subject matter expert for infectious disease, epidemiology and public health. “Staff members are also on alert to detect symptoms consistent with measles early and to promptly isolate patients with symptoms from other patients to avoid further spread of the disease.”
If you are unsure of your immunization status or do not have documented immunity, contact Occupational Health Services at your organization. You can also check with your health care provider or refer to your medical records in MyChart.
“Staff members who have received two documented doses of MMR vaccine, had laboratory-confirmed measles, have laboratory evidence of immunity such as titers or were born before 1957 are considered immune and do not need to take additional action,” says Fran Humphrey-Carothers, associate director, Johns Hopkins Occupational Health Services.
For more information on measles, visit the CDC’s measles website.
Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at The Johns Hopkins Hospital (intranet)