Health officials in Pinellas County are investigating a measles case in a 72-year-old man. This comes amid a national uptick in measles outbreaks.
Officials at the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County said the man who contracted measles recently travelled to Asia.
It wasn't initially clear if he had ever received the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. It is commonly administered during childhood in the United States.
But department spokeswoman Maggie Hall said the disease can affect adults with weakened immune systems.
“Adults should have at least one dose of MMR,” she said. “And a second one should be administered if you're at higher risk, such as if you travel internationally or you work in health care or you have other health conditions that would lower your immune system."
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms usually appear a week or two after a person is exposed to measles. They include fever, runny nose, cough and rash. There is no specific treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far reported nearly 700 cases of measles in 22 states this year. The agency said that is the highest number of cases since the disease was eliminated from the country in 2000.
This is the first case in Pinellas County in 2019 and the second in Florida. In March, Broward County reported a person had the disease who had also travelled outside the country.
Last year, seven people contracted the disease in Pinellas. Prior to that measles had not been reported in the county in decades.
Maggie Hall is urging anyone in the community older than 12 months to get vaccinated if they are not already.
Kids can receive the vaccine in one of the county DOH’s clinics for free. Adults have to pay about $86 and can get one without an appointment at these locations:
- St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
- Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N.
- Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Rd.
- Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave.
- Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave.
The state's efforts to prevent measles come as it struggles to manage a Hepatitis A outbreak, which has large concentrations in the Tampa Bay area.
"It's a day-in, day-out concern for our staff," said Maggie Hall. "We're doing a lot of outreach in places where target populations would be, so it's 'Job One' to try to control Hepatitis A right now."