The University of California, Davis, Children’s Hospital has reportedly warned at least 200 patients that they could have recently been exposed to measles after a young girl arrived in the emergency room with symptoms of the highly contagious virus.
Dr. Dean Blumberg, who serves as chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the hospital, told NBC News on Thursday that the 7-year-old girl who was brought to the emergency room two weeks ago exhibited “some symptoms of measles, but not the typical textbook characteristics of measles.”
“Measles when it starts, starts off very similar to a lot of common community associated respiratory viruses,” Blumberg said.
She said the virus can begin in some children with “fever, runny nose, runny eyes and cough. And before the characteristic rash develops, sometimes it can be very difficult to diagnose.”
Blumberg said the young girl came to the hospital’s emergency department on March 17 and was “suspected of having measles on March 19.”
“At that time, the patient was placed in appropriate isolation,” she added.
According to the physician, most cases of the virus occur within eight to 12 days after exposure, but some are “up to three weeks after exposure.”
“Even vaccinated individuals can get measles because the vaccine is not 100 percent perfect. We need a very high vaccination rate because when measles is introduced to communities that have parents who don’t immunize their children, these clusters of cases can occur,” Blumberg said.
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week found that there were more cases of measles in the first three months of this year than there were in all of last year.
The agency reported 387 measles cases between Jan. 1 and March 28. Last year, there were 372 cases in total.
According the agency, this year’s current figure is the second-greatest number of measles cases reported in the country since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. The measles outbreak comes as hesitancy toward vaccines has grown across the country.