Washtenaw County False Positive for Measles May Have Been Caused by Vaccine

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 04/12/2019 - 11:53

A reported Washtenaw County measles case was a false positive, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which has reduced the statewide count of measles for 2019 to 39 following further testing of two of the cases.

According to the MDHHS, a Washtenaw County child believed to have measles had previously been vaccinated. The state came to the same conclusions about an Oakland County child. Their symptoms and initial test results classified them as measles cases, according to the MDHHS. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol, additional genotype testing was conducted and determined they were not measles cases. The other 39 cases have been genotyped and confirmed to be measles cases.

These previously identified sites are no longer considered exposure locations:

  • Jewish Community Center of Ann Arbor
  • Olive Garden restaurant in Ann Arbor
  • Liberty Athletic Club in Ann Arbor
  • Beaumont Royal Oak Emergency Department
  • Green Garden Child Development Center

Initial testing by MDHHS was positive for measles. The MMR vaccine contains a weakened live virus that cannot cause measles but can result in positive lab tests.

The MMR vaccine has the potential to cause a mild rash and fever. This is a vaccine reaction, notmeasles, and the individual is not infectious. Due to the evolving measles outbreak in Southeast Michigan, the local health departments took appropriate steps to limit further spread of measles and responded to protect the public’s health by:

  • Promptly alerting the public about potential exposure sites.
  • Identifying potential contacts.
  • Offering post-exposure protection with either MMR vaccine or immune globulin (IG).

IG is safe and well-tolerated and provides effective short-term protection to recipients by giving them antibodies needed to fight off measles. This protection goes away after a few months, so recipients are urged to follow standard vaccination schedules.

The measles vaccine is highly effective and very safe. A single dose of measles vaccine protects about 95 percent of children, but after two doses, almost 100 percent are immune.  

The first of two routine childhood measles vaccine doses is given at 12-15 months of age. A second vaccine dose is given before the start of kindergarten, between ages 4 and 6 years.

MDHHS follows CDC guidance and does not recommend routine measles vaccinations for children less than 12 months of age unless there is a suspected measles exposure; there is thought to be an imminent measles exposure such as being in areas of known measles; or international travel planned. 

For international travel, infants as young as 6 months should be vaccinated against measles.Measles vaccine, or other acceptable documentation of immunity to measles, is recommended for all persons travelling internationally.

Michiganders are urged to contact their healthcare provider or local health department about getting vaccinated for measles if they have not been vaccinated. A complete listing of local health departments is available at Malph.org/resources/directory.

This is the highest number of measles in the state since 1991 when 65 cases were reported. So far this year in the U.S., there have been 465 cases of measles confirmed in 19 states. Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that is spread by direct person-to-person contact, and through the air.

The virus can live for up to two hours in the air where the infected person was present. Symptoms of measles usually begin 7-14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure and may include:

  • High fever (may spike to over 104˚F).
  • Cough.
  • Runny nose.
  • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).
  • Tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums, and roof of the mouth (Koplik Spots) 2-3 days after symptoms begin.
  • A rash that is red, raised, blotchy; usually starts on face, spreads to trunk, arms, and legs 3-5 days after symptoms begin.

If symptoms develop, residents are urged to call their doctor or emergency room before arriving so they can take precautions to prevent exposure to other individuals.

For more information about measles, visit CDC.gov/measles. For more information about Michigan’s current measles outbreak, visit Michigan.gov/MeaslesOutbreak.

Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of TheSalinePost.com. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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