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March 1, 2024

Measles Outbreak in Philadelphia Expands to Over 20 Cases

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Jan 13, 2024

A growing measles outbreak in Northeast Philadelphia and surrounding counties has now reached over 20 confirmed cases, prompting health officials to declare a public health emergency. Multiple potential exposure locations have been identified across Philadelphia and into Delaware, with health departments scrambling to contain the outbreak by urging vaccinations and isolating infected patients.

New Cases Traced Back to Initial Exposures

The first cases in this outbreak were reported in early January after an unvaccinated child who had recently traveled abroad developed symptoms. Health officials say the child infected two other unvaccinated siblings, who then attended school and other activities while contagious.

Since those initial cases, over 20 children and hospital staff have now tested positive for measles in Philadelphia and Delaware. Genetic testing shows all cases are linked to the same initial strain. Many of those infected were too young to be fully vaccinated, while others declined the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine due to personal beliefs.

“What we’re seeing here is a clear example of how dangerous it can be when people choose not to get vaccinated,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole in a statement. “Measles is extremely contagious and can cause very serious complications, especially in young children. We are working urgently to contain this outbreak.”

Multiple Exposure Locations Across Northeast PA and Delaware

Health officials have now identified over six different exposure locations across Philadelphia where unvaccinated individuals may have been exposed to measles. These include doctor’s offices, daycares, and even hospital emergency rooms:

  • Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children – 1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE
  • Jefferson Abington Hospital – 1200 Old York Road, Abington, PA
  • Main Line Health Center in Collegeville – 600 Town Center Drive, Collegeville, PA
  • Atlantis Healthcare and Wellness Center – 207 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA
  • Maggie’s Morning Star Daycare Center – 2301 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA
  • Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine – 3500 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

Additionally, a child in the early stages of measles infection was sent to a daycare center against medical advice, potentially exposing more than 60 children under 5 years old who are too young to be vaccinated. The family is now under criminal investigation.

State health departments in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have issued warnings about potential measles exposure during this outbreak. They advise anyone who is unvaccinated and visited these locations to monitor for symptoms like high fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a spreading body rash. The incubation period ranges from 7-21 days.

Date Location of Exposure
12/15/2023 Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington DE
12/18/2023 Jefferson Abington Hospital, Abington PA
12/21/2023 Main Line Health Center in Collegeville, Collegeville PA
12/28/2023 Atlantis Healthcare and Wellness Center, Philadelphia PA
1/02/2024 Maggie’s Morning Star Daycare Center, Philadelphia PA
1/04/2024 Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia PA

Table 1: Confirmed measles exposure dates and locations during this outbreak (Source: Philadelphia and Delaware state health departments)

Urgent Response to Contain Outbreak

With over 20 confirmed cases and counting, Philadelphia health officials are working urgently to contain this outbreak before transmission expands further. Efforts include:

  • Contact tracing to identify anyone exposed to known cases while contagious
  • Quarantines to isolate infected patients during the contagious period
  • MMR vaccine drives to boost immunity, especially among infants and children
  • Public health alerts to raise awareness and urge vaccination
  • Criminal charges against the family that violated quarantine by sending an infected child to daycare

Health officials warn that if vaccination rates do not improve and this outbreak spreads out of control, Philadelphia could face over 100 new measles cases per month by spring 2024. Some experts even worry the outbreak could go statewide or affect other major cities along the Northeast corridor.

“This outbreak is extremely concerning and threatens to spiral out of control if we don’t take urgent steps right now,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Denise Johnson in a press conference. “MMR vaccination is safe, effective and the only way we can hope to contain measles before this turns into a serious epidemic.”

So far there are no reported deaths, but five children have been hospitalized with severe pneumonia complications. Measles can also cause permanent brain damage, deafness and other serious effects.

What Comes Next?

Health experts urging calm but caution the public to take this outbreak seriously by getting vaccinated if needed and avoiding the exposure locations. Parents should especially make sure infants and children are up to date on MMR shots.

If cases continue rising despite containment efforts, more extreme measures like citywide quarantines, business closures and remote learning may need to be considered by late January or February. For now, health officials are monitoring the situation day-by-day and adjusting their response accordingly while hoping increased vaccines will slow further transmission.

But with unvaccinated populations vulnerable statewide and measles being so extremely contagious, health experts admit this outbreak may still have room to grow before coming back under control. They urge politicians and community leaders to speak out in urging vaccination compliance so further health emergencies can be avoided.

“The bottom line is we have the tools to prevent measles outbreaks through vaccination, but we need participation and compliance from the public,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Bettigole. “Other cities like New York and Chicago could be next if we don’t get this under control. This is a critical moment for our community’s health that requires unity and responsible action from all citizens.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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