The disease was first identified in Felton on Jan. 19, after the daughter of a New Leaf Market employee in Felton returned from a trip to India and started feeling ill.
According to a New Leaf spokesperson, her family thought she had the flu, but after she developed a high fever, she was sent to a hospital, where a physician ordered a series of tests and discovered that she had measles.
Her mother, who works in the grocery’s office, not with food, was at New Leaf on Jan. 26, 28 and 29, after which she came down with a rash.
A doctor quickly diagnosed her with a milder, secondary case of measles.
County public health did not release the name of the daughter or her mother.
Children are typically vaccinated with a combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella in two doses before they begin kindergarten, protecting them from the three diseases, which were once common in the United States.
It was not clear if either the daughter or the mother had been received the MMR vaccine.
The daughter of the New Leaf employee was likely infectious from Jan. 12 to 19, according to Laurie Lang, who works as a health educator for the County of Santa Cruz Public Health Agency.
Once the mother’s diagnosis was confirmed, the mother did not return to work. She was likely infectious from Jan. 26 to Sunday, Feb. 3.
The mother also may have visited Liberty Bank in Felton on Jan. 26, 28 or 29, so people who visited either New Leaf Market or Liberty Bank in Felton on those dates may be at risk of contracting measles.
According to Lang, symptoms could appear as late as Feb. 24, because the illness typically incubates in the body seven to 18 days after exposure.
The physician who identified the measles virus contacted the Communicable Disease Unit of Santa Cruz’s Public Health Department, which responded in concert with the California Department of Public Health.
As of Tuesday, the California Center for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting an active symptom watch for New Leaf and Liberty Bank in Felton.
Lang said the two cases of measles show why vaccinations are important to protect public health.
“People need to be immunized. We strongly encourage people to get MMR vaccination, and this protects the most vulnerable in our community,” Lang said. “It protects infants, pregnant women, and anyone who is immune-compromised.”
Through the use of immunization records and blood tests, New Leaf management determined all other employees there are immune to the measles virus.
What to look for
The county Health Services Agency warns that people may be at risk of contracting measles if they visited New Leaf Market or Liberty Bank in Felton on Jan. 26, 28 or 29. Anyone who went to those places on those dates should answer the following five questions:
- Have you had the measles vaccine?
- Is your birth date before 1957?
- Has a blood test shown that you are immune to measles?
- Have you ever been in the Armed Forces?
- Have you ever had measles?
Those who answer yes to any of the questions are likely protected from measles, according to county health officials. However, local residents may wish to get the measles vaccine and be on the lookout for measles-related symptoms until Feb. 24.
Anyone who answered no to all of the above questions is at risk of contracting measles. Symptoms may include cough, fever, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash.
Complications caused by measles include bacterial pneumonia, encephalitis, ear infection and diarrhea.
Those who have such symptoms should stay inside and isolate themselves from other people. A doctor should be notified immediately.
To prevent further spread of the disease, the patient should ask to sit in a room apart from the regular waiting room.
For information: 454-4343, http://santacruzhealth.org/alerts or www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.
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