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Local health officials watch for measles outbreak

5:06 PM, Mar 3, 2011   |    comments
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Last week, a woman with measles flew from London to Denver International Airport and to New Mexico where she was diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.

Infectious disease experts from National Jewish Health say if anyone contracted measles from the woman they would start showing symptoms soon, if they aren't already.

"I would not be surprised if we have a secondary case," Dr. Gwen Huitt from National Jewish Health said. "It wouldn't surprise me at all because unfortunately we've seen vaccine rates decline."

Symptoms can start to appear between seven and 18 days after exposure.

The woman was at Concourse C at DIA on Feb. 22.

Huitt says anyone who might have been exposed to the woman should immediately see a doctor if they start to have symptoms of measles.

"Usually a fever greater than 100 or 101, you get a cough, you get a very runny nose, and those all start first," Huitt said. "Within about two or four days of these symptoms, red spots usually start occurring in the face area or inside the mouth and then progress down to the rest of the body."

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases in the world, and the virus travels very easily through the air.

The best protection is a vaccine. People need two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to be safe.

"Adult vaccination is just as important as childhood vaccination," Huitt said.

The seasonal flu continues throughout Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that flu is at its peak across the country, but Huitt doesn't believe Colorado has hit the peak yet. She says National Jewish Health continues to see rising rates of flu cases.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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