ALACHUA COUNTY – The Alachua County Health Department disease control investigators are working with University of Florida Student Health and others to stop an outbreak of measles in the community. An UF student was diagnosed with measles by the Student Health Center on Sunday April 29 and further investigation by the Health Department have traced back two additional cases, one with foreign travel and one community college student. These cases have been confirmed by laboratory methods for the disease.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that presents in two distinct phases. Initially, the disease is respiratory with onset of high fever, cold symptoms, cough, and conjunctivitis. The rash appears several days later and starts at the hairline and progresses downward. Persons with measles are infectious from 4 days prior to and after the appearance of the rash.
The most effective method to preventing this disease is vaccination. These are the first cases in the county in over 20 years due to the vaccination programs. In addition, persons born before 1957 are considered immune.
Health officials are working closely with UF due to the large influx of people in town for the commencement weekend. Non-vaccinated individuals and persons with compromised immune systems should consider not attending gatherings at this time. In additions, persons who are ill with these symptoms should seek medical attention from your provider.
Health Director Tom Belcuore stated, " While this is unfortunate timing for this disease to reappear, we believe that with community support and the surveillance methods we have in place, additional cases can be identified and we can end this outbreak quickly."
For more information about measles, contact the Health Department at 334-7900 or 8888. UF students and faculty should contact the Student Health Center at 392-1161.