Imported Measles: San Diego and Suburban Philadelphia

Warning Measles Sign. Images from the History of Medicine (NLM)This week we’ve heard about two far-flung imported measles cases. One is in our backyard: a 47-year-old Pennsylvania woman traveled to Malawi, which has been experiencing a measles outbreak, and brought a case home with her. Another brings back memories of the 2008 San Diego measles outbreak: an unvaccinated child traveled to Europe and returned with the illness.

In the San Diego case, authorities have identified five locations where people may have been exposed to the virus. The story is here.

The Pennsylvania case was described in a notice from a county health department, listing seven locations where the traveler may have exposed others between July 27-August 3, including the Philadelphia International Airport and a suburban Philadelphia Whole Foods grocery store. An email sent out by a local politician claimed that the Whole Foods had agreed to post a sign notifying customers of the possible exposure. On a quick visit to the store, however, I failed to find the sign, and the staff I talked to there didn’t know about the incident.

The notice from the Montgomery County (PA) Health Department is here. It lists the groups of people who are susceptible to measles:

  • Infants who are too young to have been immunized (less than one year of age).
  • Persons who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from1963 through 1967, and have not been revaccinated.
  • Some persons born after 1957 who have only received one dose of vaccine.
  • Those who have refused vaccination.
  • Those from areas of the world where there is low vaccine coverage or circulating measles.
  • Immune-compromised persons, such as organ transplant recipients, patients receiving chemotherapy and people living with HIV/AIDS who have impaired immune systems.

People born before 1957 are generally assumed to be immune to measles.

So far, no other cases of illness have been associated with the importations.