SARASOTA (WWSB) - Four unvaccinated children in Sarasota, who had close contact to each other, have been diagnosed with measles.
The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County says the infections were acquired locally and the source has not been identified. The department is now working to identify and notify people who may have been exposed.
It's also encouraging those who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated.
"We will continue to investigate, but we would like families to know that their children could be exposed to diseases like measles anywhere and-unless they're protected with vaccination-they are risking potentially serious health effects for their child," said DOH-Sarasota Health Officer Chuck Henry. "We encourage all parents to fully vaccinate their children to protect them from diseases like measles."
Measles is a virus that is easily spread by air droplets when infected persons breathe, cough, or sneeze. The first symptoms are a high fever that may spike to 105°F, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. These symptoms are followed by a blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the feet.
Measles is a potentially severe disease, especially in young children and persons with compromised immune systems. Complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis and death.
The best way to protect yourself and those you love against measles is to get vaccinated. Two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine are recommended routinely for children, with the first dose at age 12 through 15 months and the second dose at ages four through six years. Adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine, with a second dose recommended for those at higher risk such as international travelers and health care workers.
Unvaccinated individuals who are exposed to measles may be barred for up to 21 days from public places, such as school and work, where they could infect others.
If you suspect you have measles, go see a doctor immediately.