Case of measles discovered on IU campus in Bloomington

MMR vaccine

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– Health officials in Monroe County are working with Indiana University after a case of measles was identified on IU’s Bloomington campus.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, according to the Monroe County Health Department. It spreads to others through coughing and sneezing and can live for up to two hours in an airspace after a cough or sneeze.

After the case was identified on campus, officials started identifying and contacting potential contacts to confirm vaccination or immunity to measles.

“It is important to check your vaccination records and confirm that you and your children have received the recommended doses of vaccine,” said Penny Caudill, Administrator of the Monroe County Health Department.

Students at Indiana University are required to have two doses of the MMR vaccine, and the documentation to prove it, before enrolling for their second semester of classes.  Vaccines will be made available to those who were possibly infected if needed through a partnership between IU and the Indiana State Department of Health.

Initial symptoms of measles include high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. A few days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots called Koplik spots may appear inside the mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says symptoms usually start appearing 7-14 days after the person becomes infected.

Anyone who develops symptoms of the measles, even if they are vaccinated, should stay home and call their heathcare provider. You should not show up at your doctor’s office or emergency room without calling first.

Antibiotics don’t affect measles, and there are no current medications used for treatment. Typically, doctors will focus on easing the symptoms.

Children under five years old and people with weak immune systems are more likely to have complications or die from measles. Pregnant women who contract the virus are at a higher risk for complications such as miscarriage and early delivery.

“We take measles very seriously and ask the public to do the same,” said Dr. Diana Ebling, medical director at the IU Health Center. “We will contact campus and community members who may have been exposed, but we also want our students and staff to review their own immunization history and take appropriate steps.”

The Monroe County Health Department says the best prevention method is to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR). Also remember to wash your hands with soap and water, sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and avoid sharing food or drinks.

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