Case of measles confirmed in Miami-Dade County

MIAMI (WSVN) - The Florida Department of Health has confirmed a case of measles in Miami-Dade County, Tuesday.

Officials said it was found in an unvaccinated 8-year-old girl in West Miami-Dade. She began showing symptoms of the respiratory disease on June 6 and was then taken out of school.

The Florida DOH confirmed the case on June 16. School Board officials were then notified and are now trying to find out who at the school may have been exposed.

In a statement, the Miami-Dade School Board said, “The school district is working closely with the health department … to identify and notify parents of students who may have been in close contact with this student.”

However, according to school officials, the health department said the student was not contagious when she was at the school.

More than 100 people could have possibly been exposed. The DOH said the infected child has a younger sibling who is showing symptoms of measles, but it hasn’t been confirmed.

“Measles is the most contagious disease known to man,” said Dr. Alvaro Mejia Echeverry, of the Florida DOH, “so whoever shares a space with a measles patient has a risk to acquire it. My public concern is that there will be an outbreak.”

Echeverry said parents need to be watching for the appearance of symptoms typical of measles.

“Those are conjunctivitis, cough, coryza and also fever,” said Echeverry, “and a rash that usually starts on the face then spreads to the back and finally to the arms and legs.”

In a statement by State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip, she said, “Measles is a very serious disease. The best way to protect yourself and others against measles is to get vaccinated.”

The department added they would notify people with exposure risks. Their goal now is to stop the disease from spreading.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the disease is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. People who develop these symptoms are asked to contact their health care provider. Experts also said that anyone who is going to get checked for measles should call the facility ahead, so that they can prepare to avoid exposing others at the facility.

Most children are vaccinated, something that is required by law to enter Miami-Dade Schools. However, religious exemptions can be made, although health experts have said that’s not safe.

“The main thing to keep your children safe from these infectious diseases is to give them the vaccine,” said Echeverry. “That’s an act of love, and it’s an act of social responsibility.”

For more information, visit www.floridahealth.gov.

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