Orange County quarantines measles patients

From staff reportsApril 26, 2013 

— Orange County health officials identified four more cases of the measles Friday, bringing the total to five.

Measles is a rare but highly contagious respiratory disease. The virus starts out like a cold, with fever, runny nose, coughing and sore, red eyes, but a rash appears on the face or neck within three or four days.

The patients – one adult and four children, ages 9 to 11 – have been quarantined at home, health officials said. The children are students at Emerson Waldorf School north of Chapel Hill and Grady Brown Elementary School in Hillsborough, but were not exposed to the measles at school, officials said.

All five may have been exposed to a Stokes County resident who contracted the virus while traveling in India, Health Department spokeswoman Stacy Shelp said. The quarantine period is 21 days, she said.

“Clearly, being under quarantine is a major inconvenience for those affected, but by keeping the people who are potentially contagious with measles away from others, we have been able to minimize the spread of this highly contagious disease,” Health Director Colleen Bridger said.

Health Department officials were notified about the first case April 15. It was one of seven initial cases in the state; the other six cases were in Stokes County. The state now has 14 confirmed measles cases.

The Orange County Health Department is offering the two-part MMR vaccination to any resident older than 12 months. The shots are given at least three months apart and are required when most children register for kindergarten. Residents can call the Health Department at 919-245-2400 for an appointment.

Health Department officials caution residents who think they may have been exposed to the measles to call their doctor. Do not go to the doctor’s office, Shelp said.

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