Measles Outbreak At Florida Elementary School After CDC Warns Of Nationwide Rise

Multiple cases of the measles virus have been confirmed at a South Florida elementary school, with the outbreak coming weeks after a nationwide alert went out to physicians about an uptick in cases.

A sixth case of the highly contagious virus was confirmed Tuesday evening at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, just west of Fort Lauderdale, a Broward County Public Schools official said. The first case was detected on Thursday.

“As preventative measures, proactive cleanings at the school continue to take place daily. In addition, over the weekend, the District conducted a deep cleaning of the school premises and replaced its air filters,” John J. Sullivan, chief communications and legislative affairs officer for BCPS, which is the second largest school system in Florida, said in a statement.

Manatee Bay has nearly 1,100 students, and 86 of them are not vaccinated against measles, CBS News reported citing the school district.

A dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at a health clinic in Washington state.
A dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at a health clinic in Washington state.

A dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at a health clinic in Washington state.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health said in a statement sent Tuesday evening that its office in Broward County is carrying out an epidemiological investigation and working to identify any close contacts.

The cases follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last month urging health care providers across the country to be “on alert” for potential measles cases after 23 cases ― seven of which came from international travel ― were confirmed over a recent two-month period. Most of the cases involved children and adolescents who had not received a measles-containing vaccine, even if age-eligible, the agency said.

“The increased number of measles importations seen in recent weeks is reflective of a rise in global measles cases and a growing global threat from the disease,” the CDC said.

As of last week, there have been 20 measles cases reported in 11 states across the country so far this year. That’s about 34% of the total cases reported during all of last year, which saw 58 cases, according to CDC data.

Those 11 affected states, which don’t include the more recent cases in Florida, are Arizona, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The measles virus is highly contagious, with it capable of living up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person had been.

The first symptoms don’t appear for seven to 14 days after infection. Initial symptoms typically include a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. A rash of flat red spots will then appear about three to five days after the first symptoms, according to the CDC.

The virus can be dangerous, especially for babies, young children, pregnant women, or people with compromised immune systems. Nearly 1 to 3 of every 1,000 children who become infected with the virus will die from respiratory and neurologic complications.

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is about 97% effective in preventing infection after two doses are given and 93% effective after just one.

Anyone who suspects they may be infected is advised to contact their health care provider before physically going to a public office so that others aren’t potentially exposed.