Seventh case of measles reported in Florida. Here's what you should know

The number of measles cases in Broward County continues to grow.

There were seven confirmed cases as of Thursday, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The first case was reported at an elementary school Feb. 16 and five more cases were confirmed this week. A seventh case was shown on the Department of Health's website Friday morning.

Here's what we know so far.

Measles in Broward County

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed seven confirmed cases of measles in Broward County.

The first case was reported Feb. 16 in a third-grader at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston.

Five more cases were reported at the school this week. The department did not say whether the cases involved students, teachers or school staff.

It's unknown if the seventh case was also at the school.

What are the ages of those with measles in Broward County?

According to the Florida Department of Health, the breakdown of measles confirmed in Broward County are:

  • Ages up to: 1

  • Ages 5-9: 3

  • Ages 10-14: 3

  • Total: 7

Have measles been reported in any other Florida county?

As of Feb. 22, all seven cases reported since Feb. 1 have been in Broward County.

What did Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have to say about the measles cases?

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo talks about "cluster" of measles cases at Broward County elementary school.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo talks about "cluster" of measles cases at Broward County elementary school.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo wrote in a Feb. 20 letter to Manatee Bay parents that when measles is detected in a school, "it is normally recommended that individuals without history of prior infection or vaccination stay home for up to 21 days.

"Up to 90% of individuals without immunity will contract measles, if exposed. Because of the high likelihood of infection, it is normally recommended that children stay home until the end of the infectious period, which is currently March 7. As the epidemiological investigation continues, this date could change," Ladapo said.

He added that "due to the high immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, (Department of Health) is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance."

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What are Broward County school district officials telling parents about measles cases?

“It’s safe if your child is vaccinated," said Broward Superintendent Peter Licata, who visited Manatee Bay Elementary School Feb. 20.

Licata said the district is “doing everything possible here at the school with cleaning and changing air filters.” Buses also have been cleaned and air filters changed.

He added the vaccination rate at the school is around 92 percent.

The school joined with local health providers to hold several vaccination events, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The disease is easily preventable with a regular measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly a dozen states have identified cases since December, and outbreaks have occurred in Washington state, Pennsylvania and now Florida.

Are parents keeping their children at home?

On Feb. 20, the first day after the three-day holiday weekend, more than 200 of the school's Manatee Bay students were absent, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Will Broward County close the school where the measles cases are reported?

Licata said it was too premature to determine whether to close the school if cases keep rising.

However, the school district is prepared to provide continuous learning to all children at the school if parents choose to keep them at home, according to Ladapo.

What symptoms should parents watch for?

Since children at the school have have been exposed, parents should look for:

  • A rash that often develops on the face and neck before spreading to the rest of the body.

  • High fever, which could reach 105 degrees.

  • Cough.

  • Runny nose.

  • Red, watery eyes.

What should you do if you suspect or see any symptoms of measles?

Contact your health provider for instructions on how to safely seek medical attention before you visit a clinic or hospital. This prevents others from possibly being exposed.

Florida requires MMR vaccine to attend school but there are exemptions

Students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade who are coming into a Florida school for the first time must present an immunization record (DH 680) and a current Florida School Entry Physical Examination, Form (DH 3040).

The immunization record must show the student has met the minimum state requirements for that grade, which includes the MMR vaccine.

Medical and religious exemptions from required vaccinations for Florida students do exist.

A permanent medical exemption can be granted if a child cannot be fully immunized due to medical reasons. The child's physician must state, in writing, the reasons for exemption based on valid clinical reasoning or evidence.

religious exemption from immunization, is issued — Form DH 681 — can be issued if immunizations are in conflict with the religious tenets and practices of the child's parent or guardian. This exemption is issued by a county health department and based on established religious beliefs or practices only.

How contagious is measles?

Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected, the Centers for Disease Control said. It lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to other through coughing and sneezing.

If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch an infected surface and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth, they can become infected. The virus can live up to two hours in the air after an infected person leaves the area.

The virus can be spread up to four days before through four days after the rash appears. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.

CDC issues measles advisory after 23 cases reported across US

The highly contagious disease was reported less than a month after the Centers for Disease Control urged health-care providers across the United States to use vigilance with patients after 23 cases of the preventable virus were reported between Dec. 1 and Jan. 23.

While the total number of cases remains low, reports of new infections continue to be reported across the U.S., with Florida cases now being added.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Measles in Florida 2024: Symptoms to watch for, vaccine