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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Measles reported in state, but area spared

Measles' characteristic red rash appears around day three of the illness, first on the face and then becoming generalized. Photo by CDC.

The Fredericksburg area has been spared the resurgence in measles that has happened elsewhere in Virginia and the nation.

Dr. Brooke Rossheim, director of the Rappahannock Area Health District, said yesterday that there have been no reported cases of measles in the area so far this year. 

Rossheim said he’s monitoring what’s been happening elsewhere in Virginia, including a report by the state health commissioner of an “unusually high number” of cases in the last month.

Dr. Karen Remley wrote to all doctors in Virginia on May 27 to tell them that the Health Department has received reports of four confirmed cases of measles and one suspected case in the last month. Both adults and children were infected, she said. They lived in several areas of the state. One additional case has been confirmed since Remley wrote her letter.

“The most recent cases occurred in Charlottesville and may have led to the exposure of a significant number of individuals including visitors to the area,” Remley wrote.

The increase in measles cases in Virginia reflects a similar increase nationwide. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on May 27 that there were 118 cases of measles in the U.S. in the first 19 weeks of the year. This is the highest number for this period since 1996, the CDC said. Virginia is one of 23 states reporting measles cases this year.

Nationwide, measles patients ranged in age from 3 months to 68 years. Forty percent had to be hospitalized. All but one of the hospitalized patients was unvaccinated. None of them died.

Nearly ninety percent of the cases were “importations,” meaning that they involved people from foreign countries or U.S. residents who returned home after traveling abroad, the CDC said.

Remley attributed the jump in cases to the increase in measles in foreign countries and to the declining measles vaccination rates in the U.S.

(Dr. Karen Remley’s “Dear Colleague” letter to state physicians can be seen here. The CDC’s May 27 report can be seen here.)