Second measles case identified on O‘ahu
A second case of measles was confirmed in an O‘ahu resident, the state Department of Health announced on Monday.
Authorities confirmed the second case was exposed by the previously confirmed case in an international traveler reported on April 10. The Department of Health has identified and reached out to other individuals who may have been exposed to this second case.
In a Medical Advisory issued Monday, the state health officials requested that healthcare providers identify, isolate, and report suspected measles cases. Measles is a vaccine preventable illness. Healthcare providers and the public are urged to check their vaccination status to ensure they are up to date.
“Healthcare providers and the public are encouraged to be more aware and vigilant for a possible measles infection due to recent cases in our community,” said Immunization Program Branch Chief, Ronald Balajadia. “We are seeing increases in measles outbreaks globally, including recent cases reported in American Samoa.”
Mr. Balajadia noted the two recent cases in Hawai‘i are not related to any cases in American Samoa.
Staying up to date on routine vaccines, including the measles vaccine (usually first given at the one-year well-child visit as the MMR combination vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella), protects our keiki and the larger community from outbreaks of measles. The last measles outbreak in Hawaii occurred in 2014, with 15 cases reported.
Globally and nationally, MMR coverage rates have dropped since pre-pandemic years, increasing the number of susceptible individuals. The state Department of Health said: “This secondary case is an unfortunate reminder that measles is highly contagious and can easily spread to unprotected persons.”
Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles may start with fever, followed by cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.
Measles can cause serious illness, including pneumonia, neurologic complications, and even death. Infants under 1 year of age are at particularly high risk because they are too young to be vaccinated against measles. However, measles vaccine may be recommended for children between 6 months and 1 year of age if they are exposed to a known case. In this situation, measles vaccine can prevent the infant from becoming infected and suffering potentially severe complications of measles.
More information about measles is available at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.