April 24, 2009
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VIRGINIA HEALTH COMMISSIONER EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF VACCINATIONS
(RICHMOND, Va.)—As cases of measles, chickenpox and other vaccine-preventable diseases are reported across the country and in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Department of Health is urging residents to ensure that they and their families are vaccinated.
Measles, a highly contagious but preventable disease, is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected individual. The virus can live in the air for several hours after a cough or sneeze.
Especially at risk of infection are children under the age of one year, pregnant women, people who have not been immunized and people with compromised immune systems.
Seven measles cases have been reported in the metropolitan Washington region, including one in Northern Virginia. Several exposure sites in Virginia associated with these cases are listed at the conclusion of this news release. Additionally, several cases of chickenpox have been reported in local schools in Page County.
“The existence of measles in a populous area such as Northern Virginia at a time of the year when people tend to increase their travel throughout the state should be a cautionary signal to all residents. The safest and most effective way to protect you and your family against infectious disease is to ensure that all vaccinations are administered at recommended times and are up-to-date,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, M.D., MBA.
Measles’ symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, a runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Those infected with chickenpox develop fever, fatigue and an itchy, blister-like rash. Those experiencing such symptoms should immediately call their health care provider. Calling ahead allows health care providers to take proper infection-control measures prior to a patient’s arrival.
Vaccines against measles and other preventable diseases are available through primary care physicians and local health departments. Learn more about the recommended vaccine schedules for children, teens, adults and travelers at www.immunizeva.org.
All Virginians should review their immunization records and ask their health care providers to vaccinate them against measles and other preventable diseases as appropriate.
Listed below are the dates, times and Virginia locations of exposure sites associated with regional measles cases:
If people were at these locations on these dates and during the specified time, they may have been exposed to measles and should call the Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline, (800) 533-4148, for further information and assistance.